The Story of The American Legion Part 3

Base Sec. No. 6, S.O.S., Major Arthur S. Dwight, N.Y.

Troops with French, Sgt. L.K. Flynt, Mass.

Troops with French, Capt. A.W. Kipling, Paris, France Paris Command, Pvt. Harold W. Ross, Calif.

Paris Command, Lt. Col. John Price Jackson G.H.Q., Bishop Charles H. Brent, N.Y.

1st Army Corps, Lt. Col. Lemuel L. Bolles, Wash.

1st Army Corps, Sgt. Mjr. Race 2d Army Hq., Lt. Col. Burke H. Sinclair, Colo.

The tentative name of this organization was not adopted without a great deal of discussion. All sorts of titles were suggested to the committee which considered the matter. Some of them were:

Comrades of the Great War Veterans of the Great War Liberty League Army of the Great War Legion of the Great War Great War Legion The Legion The American Comrades of the Great War The Great Legion The American Legion

The last was tentatively decided upon as the best name although there was considerable discussion on it. This discussion waxed particularly warm between a colonel and a corporal and it came to an end only when some hungry enlisted delegate braved the officer's rising ire to move an adjournment for lunch. The motion carried immediately and, true to the understanding made at the outset in regard to rank, the corporal clicked his heels together, stood at attention and saluted the colonel, when the latter passed him on the sidewalk exactly five minutes after he had been telling the colonel precisely what he thought of him and his opinions--at least as far as the name of the Veteran's Organization was concerned. I might add that this colonel was well under thirty-five years of age and that the corporal was only twenty-one.

And this brings to mind another striking feature of this most unusual gathering, which was the comparative youth of its membership. For instance the two individuals who have taken from the beginning the leading parts in the movement, Bennett Clark, son of Champ Clark and a Lieutenant Colonel of infantry, and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., son of the ex-president and also a Colonel of infantry. They are respectively twenty-nine and thirty-one years of age, and one of the most brilliant speeches in the caucus was made by a captain of twenty-six.

It must not be understood from this rather dry recital of what took place at the Paris Caucus, this record of minutes and resolutions, that it was an entirely sedate and dignified gathering. On the contrary, Young America was there and quite often the impression which one gathered was that a dozen or so Big Brothers had been turned loose at once. A great many wild speeches were made and all sorts of ticklish questions were brought up. Chairman Clark broke two gavels and three times overturned his table. Everyone there was young. Peace was young. Few knew exactly, like Bishop Brent, just what was wanted.

The whole project was new. Dozens of delegates wanted to speak; it was their first chance since April 6, 1917. In fact one man made two very violent speeches on the same subject, one in direct opposition to the other. He realized he was making a heated argument for both sides and finally sat down laughing about it. Who was he? Who was the colonel who got wrought up over the proposed name? Who were the lieutenants, and who were any of these privates, captains, and sergeants?

"I don't know." Nobody knows.

Doubtless they have themselves forgotten what they said. No verbatim records are available now. In fact I am told that no record could have been kept, for many times two or three were speaking at once and the chairman was breaking the third commandment with his gavel. But this much everyone wanted, "A Veteran's Organization." This much everyone swore he would have, one that was neither political nor partisan, one that would perpetuate righteousness, insure "honor, faith, and a sure intent," and despite whatever bickering there might have been, despite whatever differences of opinion arose, when, with a tremendous "Aye,"

the motion to adjourn was carried, this Paris Caucus had accomplished a body politic and a soul of the type which Bishop Brent so clearly described.

To resume the story of actual accomplishment. The Executive Committee was given general power to represent the units in France, to confer with committees or representatives of the American Caucus as soon as these should be appointed, and, in conjunction with the latter, to issue a call for the holding of county and State conventions and providing a unit of representation and method of selection of delegates to one general convention for the autumn of 1919, preferably November 11th, or Armistice Day.

The Executive Committee met immediately after the adjournment of the caucus and elected Colonel Foreman of the Thirty-third Division, Chairman; Lt. Colonel George A. White, Forty-first Division, Secretary and Major R.C. Patterson, Paris Command, Assistant Secretary. Lt. Col.

White, Col. Wood, Major R.C. Patterson, and Lt. L.R. Farrell were elected permanent members at large of the Executive Committee.

Then from this executive committee a committee of fifteen was chosen for the purpose of expediting the work which had been assigned to the larger committee, it being easier to assemble fifteen men than the larger number. The committee of fifteen elected Col. Bennett Clark as its chairman.

At the first meeting of the committee of fifteen a hope was expressed that the caucus in America would take similar action in the appointment of an executive committee, which would in turn delegate its authority to a smaller committee for working purposes. Just exactly how this worked out, is later described.



Once home again it didn't take a Solomon to tell Colonel Roosevelt that he had a man's size job on his hands in starting the American Legion on its way in the United States. Dispatches more or less accurate had told the service men on this side something about the Legion activities of the A.E.F. in France. As late as mid-April, however, a great many men in this country knew nothing whatever about the American Legion, while the majority of those who did were not at all sure it was to be _The Veteran's Organization_. What I have said previously about the "spontaneous opinion" of the men in France on the question of a veteran's organization proved to be equally true among service men on this side of the water. Consequently, it wasn't long after the armistice before several veteran's organizations and associations were in the process of formation. As it was a pertinent news topic, the newspapers gave a great deal of prominence in their columns to several of these organizations. They were of various types and characters. One was for enlisted men only. Another was for officers only. There was an organization for officers who had fought in France, Italy, or Russia and there was one or more organizations which had the breadth of vision to see that men of all ranks and all branches of the military and naval establishments must be eligible.

Such was the situation confronting Colonel Roosevelt when he arrived home to help start the American Legion in its own country. The fact of his arrival and his announced intention to aid in the organization of the Legion was duly heralded in the press of the United States.

At first the army and navy men were inclined to say, "Here is another of those mushroom Veteran's Associations bobbing up." In fact I heard one officer make just that remark, but another was quick to correct him by saying, "Its bound to be a straight and honest organization or a Roosevelt wouldn't stand for it." That was the crux of the initial success of the Legion, because just that was true. Every man who wore the uniform had known Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., and although he may not have agreed with him in all of his political opinions still he knew that neither he nor any member of his family would back any organization or proposition that was not morally sterling.

There were those who did not like the American Legion. There were those who were willing to let a past political prejudice deter them from aiding in the most important movement in American life to-day.

There were those who stated that Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., was prominent in organizing the American Legion for his own political advancement. The answer to that misapprehension will develop later and will prove one of the most striking incidents in this story.

Colonel Roosevelt has a peculiarly happy faculty of keeping those who work with him cheerful and optimistic. He gathered around him, to launch the movement in America, a set of cheerful, competent optimists, prominent among whom were Colonel Richard Derby, Colonel Franklin D'Olier, who figured in the Paris Caucus, Major Cornelius W.

Wickersham, Assistant Chief of Staff of the Twenty-seventh Division, Captain Henry Fairfield Osborne, Lieutenant Colonel Granville Clark, Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Kincaide, Lieutenant Colonel Eric Fisher Wood and Captain H.B. Beers. One of Colonel Roosevelt's first duties as temporary chairman of the Legion over here was to create the nation wide organization. He needed committeemen in every State to work the State organization up, and to start the machinery for the election of delegates to the St. Louis Caucus, for it had been decided that the representation in St. Louis must be by duly elected representatives from congressional districts in so far as that was possible. Each such district was awarded double its congressional representation, in addition to the delegates at large. It was no easy task to pick these committeemen. The decision of the Paris gathering that the organization must be non-partisan and non-political had to be adhered to in its fullest sense. There were soldiers and sailors enough in all the States who would have been willing to have started the organization in their respective localities, but how _not_ to get politicians of the lower order, men who would gladly prostitute the Legion, its aims and ambitions to their own selfish advantage--that was the problem which faced the temporary committee in America.

About three weeks before the St. Louis Caucus the following names were chosen from the various States as committeemen:

OFFICERS Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., New York, Chairman Lt. Col. Bennett Clark, Missouri, Vice-Chairman Lt. Col. Eric Fisher Wood, Pennsylvania, Secretary.

ALABAMA Lt. H.M. Badham, Jr., Birmingham Pvt. W.M. Cosby, Jr., Birmingham Sgt. Edwin Robertson, Birmingham

ARIZONA Pvt. Ned Bernard, Tucson Lt. Col. J.C. Greenway, Bisbee

ARKANSAS Pvt. P.R. Graybill, Democ. Pub. Co. Little Rock Major J.J. Harrison, Little Rock Pvt. Walter J. Wilkins, Pine Bluff

CALIFORNIA Sgt. L.P. Adams, San Francisco Corp. Chas. A. Beck, San Francisco Lt. Col. Benjamin H. Dibblee, San Francisco Chaplain Joseph D. McQuade, San Francisco Major Stewart Edward White, Santa Barbara

COLORADO Lt. G.W. Cutting, Florence Sgt. C.C. Neil, Greeley Major H.A. Saidy, Colorado Springs Sgt. Phil. G. Thompson, Denver

CONNECTICUT Maj. Morgan G. Bulkeley, Hartford Lt. Col. Jas. L. Howard, Hartford

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Pvt. L. Clarkson Hines, Washington Col. E. Lester Jones, Washington

DELAWARE Major Thomas W. Miller, Wilmington Capt. John P. Nields, Wilmington

FLORIDA Brig Gen A.H. Blanding, Bartow

GEORGIA Col. Alexander R. Lawton, Jr., Savannah Capt. Landon Thomas, Augusta

IDAHO Major C.M. Booth, Pocatello Pvt. John Green, Twin Falls Major Hawley, Jr., Boise Pvt. D.H. Holt, Caldwell

ILLINOIS Chf. Petty Officer B.J. Goldberg, Chicago Maj. Owsley Brown, Springfield Rear Admiral Frederick B. Bassett, Great Lakes 1st Cl. Pvt. Edw. J. Czuj, Chicago Maj. Thomas Gowenlock, Chicago 1st Cl. Pvt. Hy. Hickman Harris, Champaign 1st Cl. Pvt. Geo. Kendall Hooton, Danville Ensign Allen M. Loeb, Chicago Capt. Clark Nixon, East St. Louis Maj. John Callan O'Laughlin, Chicago Capt. Joseph Medill Patterson, Chicago 1st Cl. Pvt. C.J. Schatz, Wheaton Brig. Gen. Robt. E. Wood, Chicago Sgt. David S. Wright, Oak Park

INDIANA Col. Solon J. Carter, Indianapolis Ensign Win. L. Hutcheson, Indianapolis Sgt. R.J. Leeds, Richmond

IOWA Sgt. Chas. A. Doxsee, Monticello Major H.H. Polk, Des Moines

Chapter end

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