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I do not choose to be a common man...

It is my right to be uncommon—if I can.

I seek opportunity—not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me.

I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed.

I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia.

I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat.

It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations and to face the world boldly and say, "This I have done."

By Dean Alfange


 
The man behind the words...

The Honorable Dean Alfange was an American statesman born to Greek parents on December 2, 1899, in Constanstinople, now known as Instanbul. He came here as an infant and was raised in upstate New York. After serving in the Army in World War I, he went to Hamilton College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After receiving a law degree from Columbia University, he opened a practice in Manhattan.

Mr. Alfange was a lawyer who ran unsuccessfully for governor of New York in 1942 as a candidate of the American Labor Party and who two years later was a leader in forming the Liberal Party. He changed his affiliations among the state's parties, holding nominations or appointments through the Democrats and Republicans, as well as the Liberals and the American Labor Party.

In 1940, after several years as a leader of the American Labor Party, he was made chairman of the Democratic foreign-language speakers' bureau in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third election campaign. In 1941 he ran for Congress on the Democratic ticket in the Silk Stocking district on the East Side of Manhattan and lost to Joseph Clark Baldwin, a Republican. The next year, when Thomas E. Dewey won his first term as governor, Mr. Alfange ran third, as the Labor Party nominee, behind the Democrat, John J. Bennett.

Mr. Alfange was active in ethnic organizations and had been national president of Ahepa, a Greek-American civic group. He was president of the La Guardia Memorial House, a settlement house in East Harlem, for more than 40 years.

Dean Alfange died of cancer on October 24, 1989 at his home in Manhattan. He was 91 years old. He is well remembered for the short piece he wrote that you see above, entitled either "An American's Creed" or simply "My Creed".

The Creed espouses the ideas of self-reliance and freedom... and these are words in which I believe.

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