National Convention in Minneapolis

D'Olier Call-in

Franklin D'Olier's invitation to represent Pennsylvania at the convention.

State organizations selected the delegates to the National Convention and organized delegate transportation and housing.  

Franklin D’Olier wrote in 1929 that he left New York City for Minneapolis as “a candidate for nothing except some railroad tickets to take my family on that promised vacation,” which had by then been delayed eight months.

First National Convention Program Cover

Cover of the first convention program

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. and William “Wild Bill” Donovan convinced D'Olier to run for national commander, believing D'Olier “capable of giving the Legion a quiet, plain, business administration”.

Unlike their predecessor veterans’ organizations, founders of The American Legion wanted to be focused on “policies, not politics,” and D’Olier’s lack of political aspirations combined with his business acumen made him an ideal candidate.

Electing a national commander was among the final tasks put before the convention.

Marquis James summarized the exciting moments in The American Legion Weekly, writing that D'Olier's "only real opponent was Hanford MacNider, the soldier hero of Iowa, for whom 291 delegates cast their ballots. Before the result of the vote had been announced, but when it was apparent that Mr. D'Olier had been elected, Mr. MacNider rushed to the platform, asked that the rules be suspended and the secretary instructed to cast the unanimous vote of the convention for Mr. D'Olier. This was done.”

First National Convention Parade

First national convention parade

D'Olier received 366 votes, winning by only 75 votes before MacNider's motion to make it unanimous.

D'Olier attributed his victory to the wide acquaintanceship he developed with state organizations through his work with National Headquarters leading up to the convention.

D’Olier’s acceptance speech simple and to the point amid tumultuous cheers.

“My word is simply this. We came here to work. Let us keep on working and not listen to speeches. I thank you.”

American Legion National Convention

Delegates on the floor of the convention.

First Convention Gavel

Gavel and mallet used at the first national convention

As the gavel fell closing the convention, The American Legion developed priorities into four categories promoting Americanism, beneficial legislation for veterans, military policies supporting a strong national security, and general business such as the adoption of a constitution.

D’Olier would spend his year as national commander leading the organization in their implementation.