The first State Convention was held at the Convention Hall (Old State Armory) Clinton Street, Rochester, New York, October 10th and 11th, 1919, and convened at 10:30 am. The following business was conducted; To ratify or amend the State Constitution. Elect delegates and alternates to the National Convention. Elect two members of the National Executive Committee, to represent New York State. Elect officers of the New York State Branch for the ensuing year. Elect the State Committee composed of five members from each of the five districts, such representation to be chosen by the delegates from each of the said districts. To transact such other business as may come before this convention.
At the closing sessions of the state convention of the American Legion held in this city today the passing of a large number of resolutions was characterized by spirited debate. The discussion of the bonus question consumed more than two hours.
Another controversy came up when the Resolutions Committee reported against taking action regarding the League of Nations. A minority report was submitted, signed by six of the fifteen members of the committee, which in veiled terms opposed the League. An attempt was made to stampede Colonel William Donovan, who was chairman of the Resolutions Committee on this occasion, but he gave a sharp censure to the Westchester County delegates, who were most active in supporting the minority report. The convention finally voted to omit all reference to the League of Nations.
Civil service preference for veterans of the war was another much debated question and the recommendations of the committee were rejected in favor of others, giving absolute preference in employment and promotion to soldiers and sailors. Among the support of this motion was a policeman from New York, who spoke with bitterness of the treatment by the New York City Civil Service Commission of members of the police force who had gone into service.
Other resolutions urging Congress to make speedy and proper provisions for wounded and permanently disabled men were passed.
The convention went on record as in favor of the immediate deportation of alien slackers, men of Bolshevist tendencies and Germans who had been interned during the war. It also urged stricter censorship of soapbox orators.
Senator James W. Wadsworth delivered an address in favor of universal military training and the convention unanimously adopted a resolution favoring such service.
During the second days morning session, the election of officers was conducted and they were installed in the afternoon without incident.
The first elected state officers of the Department of New York. 1919-1920.
Commander, Russell E. Sard, Albany.
Vice Commanders, William F. Deegan, New York City.
Scott Button, Schenectady.
A. Bartholde Petersen, Essex County
Adjutant, Wade A. Hayes, New York City.
Treasurer, H. Allister Morris, Utica
Chaplain, Rev. Gregory Mabry, Kingston
1st Robert M. C. Marsh, New York City
2nd James F. Goeke, Brooklyn
3rd Lucius C. Tuckerman, Milton
4th Scott Botton, Schenectady
5th John B. Tuck, Syracuse
6th Charles C. Blakeslee, Binghamton
7th Arthur T. Smith, Rochester
8th William R. Pooley, Buffalo
9th Hamilton Fish, Sr. Garrison
The following were elected as Delegates at Large to the National Convention; Ogden L. Mills of New York City, C. W. Wickersham of Tuxedo Park, the Rev. Francis A. Kelly of Troy, and Peter M. Hart of Rockland. Sources: (New York Times, published; October 12, 1919. The American Legion in New York State by, Clarence R. Smith, Historian, Department of New York. The American Legion Department of New York Records).