Getting Organized

D’Olier returned to the United States in April 1919 looking forward to a vacation with his family before returning to his business in Philadelphia.

Before leaving with his family, D'Olier visited Theodore Roosevelt Jr. in New York City and found Roosevelt with his brother-in-law, Dr. Richard Derby, and Eric Fisher Wood, overwhelmed with preparation for a second caucus in St. Louis.

They persuaded D'Olier to assist, after his wife agreed to postpone their vacation for one month.

“I, of course, expected to return to my private business immediately upon my discharge from the Army, but became interested in The American Legion and I soon saw what wonderful possibilities for good to the country it had and was willing to give up another year away from business. I am trying in peace to do as much as I did for my country in war." - D'Olier writing to Hugh S. Bird of the American Red Cross in 1920

Joint National Executive Committee

Some of the members of the Joint National Executive Committee, which included the working Committee of Five, pictured after the St. Louis Caucus. 

After the St. Louis Caucus, the daily work of organizing The American Legion fell to a Committee of Five appointed by the Joint National Executive Committee. This committee ran the administrative operations of the organization from April 1919 through the November convention. 

The committee included Henry Lindsley, temporary chairman of the Joint National Executive Committee, Bennett C. Clark, vice-chairman, Eric Fisher Wood, Franklin D’Olier – who postponed his family vacation again – and Dr. Richard Derby.

The other members of the Joint National Executive Committee met once a month to hear reports from the working committee and give direction. 

These five men worked from the first National Headquarters offices at 14 West 44th Street in New York City without pay, some even co-signing loans to finance the fledgling organization.

"When we started in April 1919 to get ready for the St. Louis Caucus and after that when our offices were borrowed from the Plattsburg Movement, practically everybody was a volunteer and a few of us were putting up the money to pay the few clerks, but by July Ted Roosevelt and I decided that we ought to have some cash, so he and I signed this $10,000 note which the Guaranty Trust of New York discounted for us." - Franklin D'Olier, 1950 letter to National Headquarters.

Guaranty Trust Note

Early funding for the organization.

D’Olier supervised the State Organization Division, offering support to temporary state officers by communicating with them about the doings of the national organization and coordinating speakers to visit areas that needed more support in drumming up enthusiasm for the Legion.

Working with hundreds of veterans in all 48 states as well as the District of Columbia, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Cuba, Panama, and the Philippines, D’Olier helped develop the structure of continued service to the nation in peacetime that would shape the activities and aims of the Legion in the future.

“It is our business to make sure that the temporary state officers selected at St. Louis are functioning properly. We know here at National Headquarters how many men from each state went into the service...Reports from the state organizations on publicity, War Risk Insurance, and re-employment also keep us informed of the general progress of organization.” - D'Olier explaining the State Organization work in The American Legion Weekly, July 11, 1919.

States Organization Bulletin #1

The first of a series of bulletins sent to temporary state headquarters by Franklin D'Olier between July and November of 1919 discussing the progress of the national organization, membership growth and other administrative notes.