Hayes Kennedy and Harold Card
History of Boys State
Boys State is credited to Hayes Kennedy, who in 1935, was the Americanism Chairman of the Illinois Department of the American Legion. Harold Card, the Department Boy Scout Chairman and Junior High School instructor, is also credited. Kennedy and Card became concerned about a project underway in the late 1930s called Young Pioneer Camps promoted by the Fascist Party to attract high school students.
At these camps the Fascist Party would advocate the virtues of the Fascist system and the uselessness of Democracy. Hayes Kennedy felt that a counter movement must be started among the ranks of the nation’s youth to stress the importance and value of a Democratic form of government and maintain an effort to preserve and perpetuate it. The Illinois Department of The American Legion approved Kennedy’s and Card’s project and in June 1935. That summer the very first Boys State in the nation was held on the grounds of the Illinois State Fair.
For 73 years, The American Legion Boys States have given an inside look at the demands of good citizenship and civic responsibilities to tomorrow’s citizens and future leaders attending these annual workshops in government operations.
“What the young people want and dream across the next hundred years will shape history more than any motivation to be named.” – Carl Sandburg, Lincoln Biographer and Poet