The American Legion, commonly known as the Legion, is a nonprofit organization of U.S. war veterans headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is made up of state, U.S. territory, and overseas departments, and these are in turn made up of local posts. The organization was formed on March 15, 1919, in Paris, France, by a thousand officers and men of the American Expeditionary Forces (A. E. F.), and it was chartered on September 16, 1919, by the United States Congress. The Legion played the leading role in the drafting and passing of the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the "G.I. Bill." In addition to organizing commemorative events, members provide assistance at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and clinics. It is active in issue-oriented U.S. politics. Its primary political activity is lobbying on behalf of interests of veterans and service members, including support for benefits such as pensions and the Veterans Health Administration. It has also historically promoted Americanism, individual obligation to the community, state, and nation; peace and good will.


The American Legion was established in Paris, France, March 15, 1919, by a thousand officers and men, delegates from all the units of the American Expeditionary Forces (A. E. F.) to an organization caucus meeting, which adopted a tentative constitution. The action of the Paris meeting was confirmed and endorsed by a similar meeting held in St. Louis, May 8 to 10, 1919, when the Legion was formally recognized by the troops who served in the United States. The Paris caucus appointed an Executive Committee of seventeen officers and men to represent the troops in France in the conduct of the Legion. The St. Louis caucus appointed a similar Committee of Seventeen. These two national executive committees amalgamated and were the initial governing body of the Legion. The temporary headquarters was located in New York.

List of founding members

The men who initiated the formation of the Legion: * Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., of the First Division * Col. Henry D. Lindsley, formerly Mayor of Dallas, Texas * Sgt. John J. Sullivan, of Seattle * Lt. Col. Franklin D'Olier, of Philadelphia * Ex-Senator Luke Lea, of Tennessee * Lt. Col. Frederick Huidekoper, of Washington, D.C. * Major Redmond C. Stewart, of Baltimore * Wagoner Dale Shaw, of Iowa * Lt. Col. George A. White, of Oregon * "Bill" Donovan, of the "Fighting 69th" * Major Thomas R. Gowenlock, of Illinois * Lt. Earl B. Dickerson, of the 92nd Division * Sgt. Alvin York, of Tennessee * Col. John Price Jackson, of the S. O. S. * Lt. Col. "Jack" Greenway, of Arizona * Sgt. Roy C. Haines, of Maine * G. Edward Buxton, Jr., of Rhode Island * Eric Fisher Wood, of Pennsylvania * Chaplain John W. Inzer, of Alabama * Lt. Col. David M. Goodrich, of Akron * Chief Petty Officer B. J. Goldberg, of Chicago * "Tom" Miller, of Delaware * Major Alex. Laughlin, Jr., of Pittsburgh * Major Henry Leonard, of the Marine Corps * Dwight F. Davis, of the 35th Division * Corporal Charles S. Pew, of Montana * Brig. Gen. William G. Price, of the 28th Division * Bishop Charles H. Brent, Senior Chaplain of the A. E. F. * Maj. Gen. John F. O'Ryan, of the 27th Division * Stewart Edward White, of California * Private Jesus M. Baca, of New Mexico * Brig. Gen. Charles H. Cole, of the 26th Division * Sgt. E. L. Malsbary, of Nevada * Lt. Samuel Gompers, Jr., of New York * Col. Henry L. Stimson, Ex-Secretary of War * Lt. Col. Charles W. Whittlesey, Commander of the "Lost Battalion" * Roy Hoffman, of Oklahoma * Lt. Col. A. Piatt Andrew, of the American Ambulance in France * Brig. Gen. Harvey J. Moss, of the State of Washington * John MacVicar, Mayor of Des Moines before the War * Sgt. George H. H. Pratt, of New Orleans * Col. F. C. Galbraith, of Cincinnati * Corporal Joseph H. Fountain, of Vermont * Devereux Milburn, of the 78th Division * Lt. Col. Wilbur Smith, of the 89th Division * Sgt. Theodore Myers, of Pennsylvania * Col. Bennett C. Clark, son of Champ Clark * Robert Bacon, Ex-Secretary of State


The national headquarters, informally known as American Legion headquarters, is located on the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza at 700 North Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, Indiana. It is the headquarters for the National Commander of The American Legion and also houses the Legion'
library, Membership, Internal Affairs, Public Relations, and ''The American Legion'' magazine's editorial offices. The headquarters has since experienced multiple expansions since its establishment.


Membership in the Legion was originally restricted to U.S. soldiers, sailors, and marines who served honorably between April 6, 1917, and November 11, 1918. Eligibility has since been expanded to include military personnel who served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States, or armed forces associated with the U.S., between December 7, 1941, through a date of cessation of hostilities as determined by the government of the U.S., and was an American citizen when they entered that service or continues to serve honorably. U.S. Merchant marines who served between December 7, 1941, and December 31, 1946, are also eligible.


The organization's official publication in its initial phase was a magazine called ''The American Legion Weekly,'' launched on July 4, 1919. This publication switched its frequency and renamed itself ''The American Legion Monthly'' in 1926. In 1936 the publication's name and volume numbering system changed again, this time to ''The American Legion''.''American Legion Magazine,''

Notable members

Notable members of The American Legion have included: File:TRUMAN 58-766-06 (cropped).jpg|Harry Truman, 33rd President of the United States File:Dwight D. Eisenhower, official photo portrait, May 29, 1959.jpg|Dwight Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States File:John F. Kennedy, White House color photo portrait.jpg|John Kennedy, 35th President of the United States File:37 Lyndon Johnson 3x4.jpg|Lyndon Johnson, 36th President of the United States File:Richard M. Nixon, ca. 1935 - 1982 - NARA - 530679.tif (cropped).jpg|Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States File:Gerald Ford presidential portrait (cropped).jpg|Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States File:JimmyCarterPortrait2.jpg|Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States File:Official Portrait of President Reagan 1981.jpg|Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States File:George H. W. Bush, President of the United States, 1989 official portrait (cropped).jpg|George Bush, 41st President of the United States File:George-W-Bush.jpeg|George Bush, 43rd President of the United States File:Louis Johnson official DoD photo.jpg|Louis Johnson, 2nd United States Secretary of Defense File:Douglas MacArthur 58-61.jpg|General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Medal of Honor recipient File:General George S Patton.jpg|General George Patton, Jr., Two-time Distinguished Service Cross recipient File:ADM Mark E. Ferguson III VCNO.jpg|Admiral Mark Ferguson III, 37th Vice Chief of Naval Operations File:LC-DIG-ggbain-37582.jpg|Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Medal of Honor recipient File:Alvin C. York 1919.jpg|Sergeant Alvin York, Medal of Honor recipient File:Humphrey Bogart publicity.jpg|Humphrey Bogart, Academy Award winner File:Clark_Gable_-_publicity.JPG|Clark Gable, Academy Award winner

List of National Commanders

* Franklin D'Olier, Pennsylvania, 1919–1920 * Frederic W. Galbraith, Jr., Ohio, 1920–1921 * John G. Emery, Michigan, 1921 * Hanford MacNider, Iowa, 1921–1922 * Alvin M. Owsley, Texas, 1922–1923 * John R. Quinn, California, 1923–1924 * James A. Drain, Washington, 1924–1925 * John R. McQuigg, Ohio, 1925–1926 * Howard P. Savage, Illinois, 1926–1927 * Edward E. Spafford, New York, 1927–1928 * Paul V. McNutt, Indiana, 1928–1929 * O. L. Bodenhamer, Arkansas, 1929–1930 * Ralph T. O'Neil, Kansas, 1930–1931 * Henry L. Stevens, Jr., North Carolina, 1931–1932 * Louis A. Johnson, West Virginia, 1932–1933 * Edward A. Hayes, Illinois, 1933–1934 * Frank N. Belgrano, California, 1934–1935 * Ray Murphy, Iowa, 1935–1936 * Harry W. Colmery, Kansas, 1936–1937 * Daniel J. Doherty, Massachusetts, 1937–1938 * Stephen F. Chadwick, Washington, 1938–1939 * Raymond J. Kelly, Michigan, 1939–1940 * Milo J. Warner, Ohio, 1940–1941 * Lynn U. Stambaugh, North Dakota, 1941–1942 * Roane Waring, Tennessee, 1942–1943 * Warren H. Atherton, California, 1943–1944 * Edward N. Scheiberling, New York, 1944–1945 * John Stelle, Illinois, 1945–1946 * Paul H. Griffith, Pennsylvania, 1946–1947 * James F. O'Neill, New Hampshire, 1947–1948 * S. Perry Brown, Texas, 1948–1949 * George N. Craig, Indiana, 1949–1950 * Erle Cocke, Jr., Georgia, 1950–1951 * Donald R. Wilson, West Virginia, 1951–1952 * Lewis K. Gough, California, 1952–1953 * Arthur J. Connell, Connecticut, 1953–1954 * Seaborn P. Collins, New Mexico, 1954–1955 * J. Addington Wagner, Michigan, 1955–1956 * Dan Daniel, Virginia, 1956–1957 * John S. Gleason, Jr., Illinois, 1957–1958 * Preston J. Moore, Oklahoma, 1958–1959 * Martin B. McKneally, New York, 1959–1960 * William R. Burke, California, 1960–1961 * Charles L. Bacon, Missouri, 1961–1962 * James E. Powers, Georgia, 1962–1963 * Daniel F. Foley, Minnesota, 1963–1964 * Donald E. Johnson, Iowa, 1964–1965 * L. Eldon James, Virginia, 1965–1966 * John E. Davis, North Dakota, 1966–1967 * William E. Galbraith, Nebraska, 1967–1968 * William C. Doyle, New Jersey, 1968–1969 * J. Milton Patrick, Oklahoma, 1969–1970 * Alfred P. Chamie, California, 1970–1971 * John H. Geiger, Illinois, 1971–1972 * Joe L. Matthews, Texas, 1972–1973 * Robert E. L. Eaton, Maryland, 1972–1973 * James M. Wagonseller, Ohio, 1974–1975 * Harry G. Wiles, Kansas, 1975–1976 * William J. Rogers, Maine, 1976–1977 * Robert C. Smith, Louisiana, 1977–1978 * John M. Carey, Michigan, 1978–1979 * Frank I. Hamilton, Indiana, 1979–1980 * Michael J. Kogutek, New York, 1980–1981 * Jack W. Flynt, Texas, 1981–1982 * Al Keller, Jr., Illinois, 1982–1983 * Keith A. Kreul, Wisconsin, 1983–1984 * Clarence M. Bacon, Maryland, 1984–1985 * Dale L. Renaud, Iowa, 1985–1986 * James P. Dean, Mississippi, 1986–1987 * John P. Comer, Massachusetts, 1987–1988 * H. F. Gierke III, North Dakota, 1988–1989 * Miles S. Epling, West Virginia, 1989–1990 * Robert S. Turner, Georgia, 1990–1991 * Dominic D. DiFrancesco, Pennsylvania, 1991–1992 * Roger A. Munson, Ohio, 1992–1993 * Bruce Thiesen, California, 1993–1994 * William M. Detweiler, Louisiana, 1994–1995 * Daniel A. Ludwig, Minnesota, 1995–1996 * Joseph J. Frank, Missouri, 1996–1997 * Anthony G. Jordan, Maine, 1997–1998 * Harold L. Miller, Virginia, 1998–1999 * Alan G. Lance, Sr., Idaho, 1999–2000 * Ray G. Smith, North Carolina, 2000–2001 * Richard J. Santos, Maryland, 2001–2002 * Ronald F. Conley, Pennsylvania, 2002–2003 * John A. Brieden III, Texas, 2003–2004 * Thomas P. Cadmus, Michigan, 2004–2005 * Thomas L. Bock, Colorado, 2005–2006 * Paul A. Morin, Massachusetts, 2006–2007 * Martin F. Conatser, Illinois, 2007–2008 * David K. Rehbein, Iowa, 2008–2009 * Clarence E. Hill, Florida, 2009–2010 * Jimmie L. Foster, Alaska, 2010–2011 * Fang A. Wong, New York, 2011–2012 * James E. Koutz, Indiana, 2012–2013 * Daniel Dellinger, Virginia, 2013–2014 * Michael D. Helm, Nebraska, 2014–2015 * Dale Barnett, Georgia, 2015–2016 * Charles E. Schmidt, Oregon, 2016–2017 * Denise H. Rohan, Wisconsin, 2017–2018 * Brett P. Reistad, Virginia, 2018–2019 * James W. Oxford, North Carolina, 2019–2020

List of Honorary Commanders

*Marshal Ferdinand Foch *General John J. Pershing

List of past National Commanders by vote of National Conventions

* Henry D. Lindsley, Texas, 1919 * Milton J. Foreman, Illinois, 1921 * Bennett Champ Clark, Missouri, 1926 * Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., New York, 1949 * Eric Fisher Wood, Pennsylvania, 1955 * Thomas W. Miller, Nevada, 1968 * Maurice Stember, New York, 1975 * Hamilton Fish III, New York, 1979 * E. Roy Stone, Jr., South Carolina, 1987 * Robert W. Spanogle, Michigan, 2008

See also

* ''Freedom Bell, American Legion'' * List of members of the American Legion * List of veterans' organizations




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Further reading

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External links

; Official * ; General information * *
American Legion politician members
at The Political Graveyard
The American Legion Centennial Celebration
* * {{Authority control Category:1919 establishments in France Category:501(c)(19) nonprofit organizations Category:Advocacy groups in the United States Category:Aftermath of World War I in France Category:Aftermath of World War I in the United States Category:American veterans' organizations Category:Charities based in Indiana Category:Lobbying organizations in the United States Category:Magazine publishing companies of the United States Category:Nonpartisan organizations in the United States Category:Non-profit organizations based in Indianapolis Category:Organizations established in 1919 Category:Patriotic and national organizations chartered by the United States Congress Category:Title 36 of the United States Code