American Boy Scouts

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The American Boy Scout (ABS) was an early Scouting organization formed by William Randolph Hearst. On May 9, 1910, Hearst called an organizational meeting to form a Scouting group. Although he knew of the Boy Scouts of America, formed by rival publisher William D. Boyce, Hearst pushed his own vision of Scouting and incorporated the ABS on June 24, 1910.[1]

By December, 1910, Hearst publicly withdrew his support of the ABS through opinion pieces in his own newspapers. In April of 1912, an incident in which an American Boy Scout accidentally shot a child and the resulting publicity caused the group to essentially dissolve by 1913. The ABS was part of the Order of World Scouts until this period.

In 1915, the ABS was resurrected as the United States Boy Scout and in 1916 sought but did not receive a federal charter. These Scouts performed military style drills with rifles and sold war bonds during World War I. John Gluck, a professional fund raiser who kept 40% of what he raised, was the major force behind the group. They claimed a membership of 5,000, mostly within New York state.

The USBS was often confused with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). After the BSA received their federal charter in 1916, Chief Scout Executive James E. West pressed the USBS to change their name. The BSA finally filed suit in 1917 and was represented by Charles Evans Hughes. In 1918, the New York Supreme Court found for the BSA and the USBS was barred from using the terms "Boy Scout," "Scout," "Scouting" or any variation thereof. The USBS then operated as the American Cadets and the U.S. Junior Military Forces, Inc for a few years before finally dissolving.[2] At the height of the program, the USBS claimed 200,000 Scouts but there were probably only about 3,000.[3]

See also


  1. Rowan, Edward L (2005). To Do My Best: James E. West and the History of the Boy Scouts of America. Las Vegas International Scouting Museum. ISBN 0-9746479-1-8. 
  2. Macleod, David (1983). Building Character in the American Boy: The Boy Scouts, YMCA, and Their Forerunners. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0-2990940-4-9. 
  3. Peterson, Robert W. (1984). The Boy Scouts: An American Adventure. American Heritage Publishing. ISBN 0-8281-1173-1.