America's Largest Veterans Service Organization

myLegion.org Icon
Social IconsSocial IconsSocial IconsSocial IconsSocial Icons




March 15 - 17 1919, Happy  Birthday Legionnaires

Founding Paris caucus of American Legion

May 8 – 10, 1919

    Organizational caucus held in St. Louis, Mo.

September 16, 1919     The Congress of the United States chartered the American Legion






Late 1919

     Representatives of five cities, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C.  bid to gain the new organization’s permanent national headquarters.  Indianapolis won. The American Legion was born at a caucus of the American Expeditionary Force (A.E.F.) in Paris, France, held March 15 – 17, 1919.  This caucus was the result of a proposal by Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. to a group of representatives of A.E.F. divisions and service units.  It was at this Paris caucus that the American Legion received its name.






The honor of naming the new organization went to Maurice K. Gordon, then a major in the 35th Division and later a judge in Kentucky. At the St. Louis caucus, attended by 1,100 delegates, May 8-10, 1919, the blueprint of The American Legion was produced.  It was at the St. Louis caucus that the Preamble to the Constitution of the American Legion was put into final form.  In St. Louis, the now-immortal Preamble was developed by the fertile minds of:



1. John C. Greenway of Arizona


2. Hamilton Fish of New York


3. George N. Davis of Delaware







Lemuel Bolles of Washington became the first National Adjutant, he later became president of the Prudential Insurance Company.





The Legal Status of The American Legion 


Purpose of The American Legion as designated in the original charter?

That the purpose of this corporation shall be: To promote peace and good will among the peoples of the United States and all the nations of the earth; to preserve the memories and incident of the Great War of 1917-1918; to cement the ties of love and comradeship born of service; and to consecrate the efforts of its members to mutual helpfulness and service to their county.

The American Legion is a not-for-profitfederally chartered organization, one of only a handful of such organizations in the country.  Chartered by Congress in 1919, The American Legion, as a national entity, is not incorporated under the laws of any state.  Legally, it has the nearly unique status of a federal corporation.









The American Legion is a 501 ( c ) 19 organization

 It means that the national organization of The American Legion, its Departments and Posts are exempted from the payment of income taxes.  However all such groups must file Form 990 with the IRS each year setting forth a statement of assets and liabilities and the fact that they are exempted under the terms of the act?




The American Legion played a big part in the naming and forming of the Veterans Administration.


Immediately after the close of the 1920 convention in Cleveland, Ohio, National Commander Frederick W. Galbraith Jr. called a conference in Washington, D.C., to consider the plight of disabled veterans resulting from the unwieldy mass of laws and regulations administered by a multitude of government bureaus.  Out of that conference came the American Legion’s request for a presidential committee to investigate existing conditions.  As a result, the Dawes Committee, which included representatives of the American Legion, was appointed.  The Dawes Committee report, accompanied by White House recommendations, brought about congressional action consolidating most of the activities dealing with World War 1 veterans into a new independent agency-The United States Veterans Bureau (now the Department of Veterans Affairs).





Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, An American Legion Achievement


The greatest single legislative achievement of the American Legion was the enactment of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, more popularly known as the GI Bill of Rights.  Not only is the American Legion universally recognized as the originator of this complex and multi-dimensional bill, but also as the force which overcame major political opposition by massing public opinion in favor of the measure.






The GI Bill of Rights is best described by its subtitles:


1. Hospitalization, claims and procedures


2. Education of veterans


3. Home, farm and business loans


4. Employment of veterans


5. Readjustment allowances for the unemployed


6. General administrative and penal provisions



The drafting of this legislation has been called the greatest single feat of statesmanship in the history of the American Legion.







The Poppy program



The Poppy program is the oldest and most widely recognized Auxiliary program.  Each year around Memorial Day, Auxiliary volunteers distribute millions of bright red crepe paper poppies in exchange for contributions to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans.





Donations are used exclusively to assist and support veterans and their families.  The poppy has become a nationally known and recognized symbol of sacrifice and is worn and used by members to honor the men and women who served and died for their country in all wars.



Download TAL History


Download TAL Basic Facts 












<< Previous Page     Next Page >>