Why I Am an American, by J. Reuben Clark Jr.

Called Unto Liberty, 20th Century Sermons, J. Reuben Clark Jr.

I am an American because I believe in a government of laws and not of men, and in a national allegiance to high principle and lofty ideal instead of to a personal sovereign.

I am an American because I believe in a government with three distinct, separate branches, each mutually independent of the other, with no power of delegation or appropriation of rights or powers by any one to or from any other.

I am an American because I believe that government “must derive its just powers from the consent of the governed” and that branches of government and officers shall have such powers and such only as shall be given by the people; because I believe that the assumption by branches of government or by officers of rights or powers not specifically conferred upon them is usurpation, and because impeachment or other trial lies against any officer who so usurps rights or powers not specifically conferred.

I am an American because I believe in the greatest possible measure of self- government and because I believe in a federal system of government which keeps local affairs in the hands of local governments.

I am an American because I believe in a bill of rights which places wholly beyond the reach of lawful government certain matters affecting “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and specifically the right of freedom of conscience and worship, the right of free speech and a free press, the right peaceably to assemble and petition government, and the right to gain and hold property without molestation except by due process of law.

I am an American because under our form of government the people of the United States have made a progress never before made by any other people in the world in an equal time during the whole period of recorded history.

I am an American because standards of life and of living of the entire American people are far beyond those enjoyed by any other people in any other part of the world, either now or at any other time, which is a living testimony and evidence of the kindly beneficence of our free institution . . . .

I am an American because I firmly and earnestly believe that the Constitution is an inspired document designed by our Maker to set up a government which would make sure and secure the rights set forth in the Bill of Rights, and particularly the right of freedom of conscience and worship.

I am an American because I believe that the destiny of America is to be the abiding place of liberty and free institutions, and that its own practice and enjoyment of these blessings shall be to the world a beacon light which shall radiate its influence by peaceful means to the uttermost parts of the world, to the uplifting of all humanity.


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Source: J. Reuben Clark Jr., Congressional Record, 11 June 1940.  J. Reuben Clark Jr. (1871–1961), served as a mem­ber of the First Pres­i­dency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1931–1961. Prior to his full-time church ser­vice he served as assis­tant solic­i­tor to the State Depart­ment, served in the Attor­ney General’s office, served as Under Sec­re­tary of State, was the author of the clas­sic study the “Clark Mem­o­ran­dum on the Mon­roe Doc­trine,” and served as U.S. Ambas­sador to Mex­ico. Among those who knew his work best, J. Reuben Clark was rec­og­nized as the fore­most con­sti­tu­tional scholar of the 20th Century.


Called Unto Liberty is a project of Steve Farrell and The Moral Liberal.


The Moral Liberal recommends J. Reuben Clark Jr’s: Stand Fast by Our Constitution