American Legion Department of Connecticut
Connecticut is the land of steady habits along the land of the tidal river. Some call us the Provision State, Nutmeg State and others call us the Constitution State. Connecticut is a proud state. We had the first constitution with the Fundamental Orders of 1639. And Capt. Joseph Wadsworth on October 31, 1687, hid King Charles II’s Royal Charter of 1662 in the Oak Tree. We provided provisions, uniforms and arms for George Washington’s Continental Troops and Pershing’s Dough boys. We had patriots in Nathan Hale and Gen. Israel Putnam. Our discoveries were Town’s Lattice Truss Design, Yale University, Whitney’s Cotton Gin, Colt’s Firearms and Bushnell’s Turtle.
Here, you will read about the foundation of the Connecticut American Legion. Our eventual first state Commander Alfred N. Phillips, Jr. had formed the “Army and Navy Association” of world war veterans in Stamford, Norwalk, and Bridgeport. James B. Moody started a world war veterans’ group in Hartford. But when Phillips, Moody and others heard that a National Veterans group was being formed, they opted for The American Legion: a group of soldiers, sailors and marines all working together in a common bond for the betterment of those veterans who were serving at home and across the sea in France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, and Great Britain. They wanted jobs, hospital care, financial assistance and a fair deal for all veterans and their families. Under the guidance of the founding father, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., world war veterans, men & women, became The American Legion. The first caucus, our birth, was held on March 15-17, 1919, in Paris, France. And the returning dough boys stood up at the second caucus on May 8 – 10, 1919, in St. Louis, Missouri and elected officers, formed a charter, adopted a constitution, and authorized states to come aboard. Thus, the American Legion became a reality. James Moody received the Connecticut Temporary Charter on May 24, 1919.
On June 10, 1919, the first Connecticut temporary executive committee meeting was held at the Hartford City Club. This day, Connecticut World War veterans made the decision to become a corporation. The American Legion, Connecticut Branch. These veterans initiated the formation of posts and elected officers. Chairman: James B. Moody, of Hartford Secretary: Alfred N. Phillips, Jr. of Stamford Vice Chairman: William J. Malone of Bristol Vice Chairman: Francis W. Carroll of Waterbury Treasurer: Frank S. Butterworth of New Haven Executive Committee (those from St. Louis and not noted, above).Bernard H. Matthies of Seymour, Walter D. Makepeace & James S. Hurley of Waterbury, Philo C. Calhoun of Bridgeport, Webster D. Copp of Norwich, Morton C. Tilney of Essex, Paul L. Sampsell of New London, Rev Harry C. Meserve of Stamford, Hiram Bingham of New Haven and Robert Vance of New Britain.
The first charter, Post 1, was given to Waterbury after a petition signed by some 150 names had been presented by W. D. Makepeace. Post 2: William J. Malone spoke for Bristol, noting that the city had set aside $7,000 to organize a non-military group for ex- servicemembers. Alfred N. Phillips noted his efforts on behalf of ex-servicemen in Bridgeport, Norwalk, and Stamford. Stamford became Post # 3. Applications were received from: Norwich (4), Watertown (5), New Britain (6) and others.
The Soldiers, Sailors and Marines Fund resolution, which would be read and voted on at the convention on the willingness of the Legion to assist in the administration of the fund of 1919, and would benefit disabled soldiers, sailors and marines and co-operate with the state board of control in the administration of the fund.
The first Connecticut American Legion convention was held October 11, 1919, in the State Armory, Hartford. Temporary Chairman Alfred Phillips ran the convention until officers could be elected. 250 Delegates and Alternates were present from the first thirty-four posts and others: Windsor Locks, Waterbury Women’s Post, Stratford, Meriden, New Haven, Westville, Mansfield, and Ansonia, who were in the process. 1919 Elections: State Chairman: Philo C. Calhoun, Post 11 1st Vice Chairman: James S. Hurley, Post 1 2nd Vice Chairman: Paul L. Sampsell, Post 9 Secretary: Thomas J. Bannigan, Post 8 Treasurer: Frank S Butterworth, New Haven Chaplain: Father H.C. Cassidy
On August 1, 1920, the permanent Charter for The American Legion, Connecticut Branch, Inc., was granted by the National Executive Committee.
On September 27, 1920, the Poppy became the Official Flower of The American Legion. The poppy memorialized the soldiers who fought and died during the Great War. In 1924, the distribution of poppies became a national program of The American Legion, but sometime later the responsibility was turned over to the Auxiliary.
1929 Connecticut’s American Legion Cap was born, when the Connecticut dough boys came home from WWI, they wanted to remind everyone that their uniforms and those dating back to the Revolution War were Connecticut made. Connecticut was the provision state, so Colonial Buff for the top was used, not just “Buff.”
1932 The Sons of The American Legion (first: SOTAL and today: S.A.L.) was created as an organized program within The American Legion. The S.A.L. is made up of boys and men of all ages whose parents or grandparents served in the United States military and became eligible for membership in The American Legion. Moosup Post 91 was an early supporter of the S.A.L.
1942 Nutmeg Boys’ State was first held at UCONN. The first and second Boys’ State Governors were Thomas Brothers and Everett Loveland.
1953 Connecticut’s first National Commander, Arthur J. Connell was elected.
1987 Connecticut and Middletown Post 75 held the first American Legion Baseball World Series. Cincinnati, Budde Post 507 defeated the Boyertown Bears, the former Champion. The score was 7-0. Captain Pete Rose, II signed autographs.
2000 State Police asked Commander Shepard, Gerald Dierman, and the Department Executive Committee, if there was any interest in a State Police youth program.
2005 A resolution to initiate an American Legion Hall of Fame and add scholarships to the Eagle Scout of the year was passed.
2010 Groundbreaking for housing for homeless veterans in Jewett City, a project initiated by Bill Czmyr and The American Legion, LaFlamme- Kusek Post 15.
2017 Flag Day, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., introduced a bill to give Congress the authority to prohibit physical desecration of the U.S. flag. The measure followed introduction of a similar bill in the House on Feb. 2 by Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark. There was no vote to protect our Flag!
2019 The Department of Connecticut celebrated it’s 100th birthday with a gala celebration at the Aqua Turf in Southington, CT