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Independence Day


The American's Creed
William Tyler Page



"I believe in the United States of America as a Government of the people by the people, for the people, whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a Republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect Union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

"I therefore believe it is my duty to my Country to love it; to support its Constitution; to obey its laws; to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies."

Soon after American's entrance into World War I, Henry Sterling Chapin, New York's Comissioner of Education, proposed that a national writing contest be held establish a creed for all Americans.

News of the contest quickly spread throughout the United States. By the time of the contest deadline, more than three thousand entries had been received. After carefully reading through each of these entries, the judges selected William Tyler Page's entry as "the best summary of the political faith of America."

In just one hundred words, Page summarized both the American political tradition and the responsibilities of every citizen to his or her government. The American's Creed incorporates portions of the Declaration of Indepedence, the Preamble to the Constitution, and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

Congress officially adopted Page's writing as "The American's Creed" on April, 13, 1918.

Questions:

  • What is a creed? With what other creeds are you familiar? How is The American's Creed similar to these? How does it differ?

  • Who called for a national writing contest to establish a creed for Americans?

  • When did this contest take place? What other important events were occuring during this time period? How might these events have led to the writing of the Creed?

  • Upon what principles does Page say American was founded? Do you agree or disagree with his choice? Why?

  • According to Page what duties do citizens have to their Country? How might you fufill each of these responsibilities?

  • Do you recognize portions of other famous documents in this Creed? If so, point them out and name their source.


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