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Wilson Elected President

Woodrow WilsonOn March 4, 1913, Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated the 28th President of the United States. Boy Scouts provided crowd control for the inauguration and have served in that capacity at every inauguration since. While leading the nation during World War I, President Wilson relied heavily on the Boy Scouts of America to support the war effort at home. This included community service, selling war bonds and other activities.

First BSA Handbook

The Official Handbook: A Handbook of Woodcraft, Scouting, and Life-craft (now known as the 1910 Original Edition Handbook) was written by Ernest Thompson Seton and was influenced significantly by Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys (Baden-Powell’s book was based heavily off of Seton’s handbook for his youth group The Woodcraft Indians, The Birch Bark Roll.) This version was published from July 1910 to March 1911.

James E. West Chief Executive

On January 1, 1911, James E. West begins his tenure as the first executive secretary of the Boy Scouts of America and opens a new office in New York City on January 1, 1911.  The position would be renamed Chief Scout Executive, a position occupied by West until 1943.

James E. West Chief Scout Executive

James Edward West, born May 16, 1876, never knew his father. His mother died when Jimmy was six. He spent most of his youth in a Washington, D.C. orphanage, except for two years starting at age eight when he was in a hospital being treated for tuberculosis, which left one leg crippled, often strapped on his back.

Goodman Joins Scouting

Dr. Goodman began his Scouting career in 1911 at the age of twenty in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Two young Scouts, Gil Talmadge and Boyd Johnson, from Troop 1 knocked on his parent's door, and told him they were looking for a Scoutmaster.

In his four years as Scoutmaster, the troop grew to more than 100 Scouts. Goodman’s troop was considered the most exciting to be a part of and he took them camping as their Scoutmaster at Treasure Island.

Gil Talmadge

In the early days of Scouting, boys were so eager to become Scouts that they sometimes set out to recruit their own adult leaders. That was how E. Urner Goodman became involved with Scouting.

One day in 1911, two young Scouts, Gilson M. Talmadge and Boyd Johnson went to Urner Goodman’s parent's house and asked him to join their troop as Scoutmaster. Urner accepted the Scout’s offer and became the Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 1, the first chartered troop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

First Scouting Handbook

When Baden-Powell was stationed in South Africa during the Second Matebele War of 1896, he frequently led reconnaissance missions into enemy territory. Many of the scouting skills he learned in childhood were improved and mastered during this period. It was here he met an American by the name of Frederick Russell Burnham, the Chief of Scouts for the British Army during the Boer War. Burnham had a major influence upon Baden-Powell, imparting the scoutcraft and self-reliance skills from the Indians and from the American West and the importance of teaching these skills to young men. Years later, Baden-Powell wrote a book called Aids to Scouting, much a written explantion of the lessons he had learned from Burnham.

Taft Elected President

William Howard TaftOn March 4, 1909, William Howard Taft was inaugurated as the 27th President of the United States. President Taft became the first Honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America in 1911. Every President since Taft has served Scouting in this role. Taft would later become the only president to also serve as a Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

First Membership Certificate

In 1910, the first year of the Boy Scouts of America the BSA did not “Register” Scouts. Instead each Scout was “Certified.” The early BSA was still using the original British Boy Scout terms and symbols. Instead of receiving a registration card they received a document that certified them as a Scout. The BSA symbol printed on the certificate was the British Scout symbol, not the familiar BSA trefoil. Perhaps most unusual was usage of the British Scout Law. As a result the 1910 Certificate was printed with “The Nine Points of the Scout Law” and not our familiar twelve. Among the original BSA Nine Points of the Scout Law was the Eighth Point, “A Scout smiles and whistles under all circumstances.”

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