James A. Gary, Jr., First
Commander of the
Department of Maryland
At the Paris Caucus, which opened on March 15, 1919,
over six hundred men from many different organizations, both enlisted
and commissioned, entered deliberations, out of which was born The American
Legion. Out of the six hundred plus attendees, at least eleven have
been positively identified as Marylanders.
Following the Paris Caucus, a second caucus was held
- this time, in St. Louis, Missouri, under the leadership of Colonel
Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. Col. Roosevelt had been in communication with
James A. Gary, Jr. regarding representation from the state of Maryland.
Mr. Gary contacted H. Findlay French, J. Craig McLanahan, and Henry
S. Barrett. These four met at the Merchants Club and worked out the
plans for preliminary organization and representation at the St. Louis
Caucus. The delegation would consist of 15 men, 60% of whom were required
to be of the enlisted ranks. The delegates named James A. Garym, Jr.
as State Chairman. Unfortunately, business pressures prevented Mr. Gary
from attending the St. Louis Caucus, so H. Findlay French acted as Chairman
of the delegation at the caucus.
Upon the delegation's return from the St. Louis Caucus,
a meeting was
in which all veterans were invited and a temporary
organization was set up. A Charter was issued to the Department of Maryland
by the National Headquarters, then in New York, on May 24, 1919, as
a patriotic, mutual-help, war-time veterans organization.
The American Legion, Department of Maryland is a
community-service organization which now numbers nearly 52,000 members
-- men and women -- in 134 American Legion Posts throughout the state
of Maryland. These posts range in size from 15 members to over 1,600
members in a given post.