B-P's Affidavit




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"United States Boy Scout"

History is said to be written by the victors.  The following is the BSA's point of view regarding the role of Baden-Powell's sworn affidavit in their rise to a total monopoly on "Scouting" in the United States.

Unfortunately, the enthusiasm of the general public throughout the country in accepting the Scouting idea led to the development of a number of movements un-related to each other.  Happily, however, all of these organizations were led to merge in and with the Boy Scouts of America with the exception of the American Boy Scouts, which was incorporated on June 9, 1910, organized under the patronage of Mr. William Randolph Hearst.  This organization was the occasion of considerable embarrassment and while it subsequently changed its name to the United States Boy Scout, it finally became necessary in 1917, after many years of the most patient effort in trying to secure amicable recognition of their rights, for the Boy Scouts of America to enter suit against the "U. S. Boy Scout" . . ."that the defendant, its officers and agents and each of them be enjoined and restrained from using in its name or otherwise the words 'Boy Scout,' or 'Boy Scouts,' or the words 'Scout'  'Scouts' or 'Boy Scouts' or any adaptation thereof."

This was necessary to protect the boyhood of America from exploitation at the hands of various groups who might and did indeed use the word "Scout" for ends which did not involve for the boy the character development program which Sir Robert S. S. Baden-Powell had made basic in the word "Scout."

The U.S. Boy Scout alleged the existence in England of a second (short lived) "scout" organization which "laid special stress upon military training and discipline," thus distinguishing sharply the two organizations.  This meaning of the word "Scout," the "U.S. Boy Scout" sought to introduce in the United States.

Baden-Powell Testimony

The issues as developed by this suit make necessary the testimony of Baden-Powell as to what he had mind in organizing the English Boy Scouts Association.  The following quotations are taken from the records of the Supreme Court of New York State:

"Interrogatories to be administered to Sir Robert S. S. Baden-Powell, of London, England, a witness to be examined under the commission to be issued pursuant to order entered herein on 14th day of December, 1917."

(in connection with the suit in which he)

as "witness, personally appeared before me on the 24th day of May, 1918, at 10:30 o'clock in the afternoon, at the American Consulate General, 18, Cavendish Square, London, West, in the city and county of London, England, and after being sworn to testify the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, did depose to the matters contained in the foregoing deposition, and did, in my presence, subscribe the same and endorse the exhibits annexed hereto."

THIRD: Kindly give a statement in full as to the origin of the Boy Scout Movement, making the statement as full, complete, and detailed as you can.

To the third interrogatory he saith: In 1893-1894, when serving with my regiment, the 13th Hussars, I realized that the ordinary peace training of soldiers for service in the field was not sufficiently practicable, and I therefore carried out classes of training in my squadron for the men individually in Scouting and Camping.

In 1897-1898, having been transferred to command the Fifth Dragoon Guards, I carried on similar training, but on improved lines, with a view to developing character, as well as field efficiency, since this was largely lacking in lads coming on to the Army from the ordinary school.

My lectures and practices were collated and published in a small book, "Aids to Scouting." During the South African War, 1899-1900, Major Lord Edward Cecil, my Chief Staff Officer, organized the boys of Mafeking as a corps for general utility on Scout lines rather than those of Cadets and the experiment was an entire success. The experience taught one that if their training was made to appeal to them, boys would learn rapidly and also that boys were capable of taking responsibilities to a far greater degree than was ordinarily believed if only they were trusted.

In 1901 I raised the South African Constabulary on lines of my own, the principles of which were practically those of the Scout training applicable to men. The troop was made a small unit, in order that the Commander should be able to deal with each individual on personal knowledge of him; the system of patrols was initiated, of six men under a leader. Responsibility was thus given to the junior non-commissioned officers, and emulation between the patrols produced a good spirit to the higher standard of efficiency all around. The human side was appealed to, and the men were trusted on their honor to a very large degree in carrying out their duties.

Their uniform for field work was the cowboy hat, shirt, green tie, and shorts. Badges were awarded for proficiency in different lines of work. On my return to England in 1903 I found that, among others, Miss Mason, head of a training school for teachers, had adopted "Aids for Scouting" as a textbook for their instruction in observation and education as a step to character training.

In 1904 I schemed some ideas for Scouting as a training for boys. In 1905, I had a conversation with Sir William Smith., the founder of the Boys' Brigade, as to adapting the training for boys, and I offered to write a book for them on the lines of "Aids to Scouting" as a means for enthusing the boys and giving the wider scope and greater variety to their training for citizenhood.

In 1907 I held a trial camp for Scout training, Brownsea Island, at which I had boys of other schools to experiment on, and its results exceeded my exceeded my expectations and prompted me to go on with the idea. The training was based on that which I had employed with soldiers and with the constabulary, with some adaptation to make it suitable for boys, following the principles adopted by the Zulus and other African tribes, which reflected some of the ideas of Epictetus, and the methods of the Spartans, ancient British and Irish for training their boys.

I also looked into the Bushido of the Japanese as well as those of today put into practice by Sir William Smith, Seton Thompson, Dan Beard, and Jahn, more especially because he put into practice in modern times the idea of Livy of voluntary associations of boys for improving their physique and developing their patriotism.

In 1908 I brought out the Handbook of the training entitled "Scouting for Boys" in six fortnightly parts. A number of troops were started in different parts of the United Kingdom before the series was half completed. Although additional attraction for their boys by the "Boys Brigade" and "Church Lad Brigade," it became evident that a separate movement was required to deal with a number of boys who were taking it up unconnected with these bodies.

In 1910 the Boy Scout Movement had grown to such dimensions, numbering 123,980, that I felt it incumbent upon me to leave the Army in order to take the Movement in hand.

FOURTH: State the conditions and facts which led to the development of the Scouting idea, giving the sources of the suggestions as to the name, program, form of organization, activities and the like.

To the fourth interrogatory he saith: With a view to making the subject appeal to boys and to meet their spirit in adventure, I held up for their ideal the doings of back-woodsmen and knights, adventurers, and explorers as the heroes for them to follow. These I grouped generally under the title of "Scouts."

In their camp life, boat work, pioneering, and nature study one could find all the attractions for a boy which at the same time would be the medium of instruction. I worked it out partly from my own experience and partly from the general feeling of what was lacking in the training of the average school boy. The deficiency lay chiefly in the direction of character and general intelligence; skill of handicraft; services for others and for the state; physical development and health knowledge. The activities and practices of Scouting were, therefore, framed as far as possible to develop these attributes.

IDEALS. Honor was made the high ideal for the boys; the Scout Law, on which the movement was hinged, was taken from the code of the knights.

ADMINISTRATION. Was decentralized as much as possible, since I had seen how greatly other movements were hampered by their centralization.

ORGANIZATION. The troop was purposely kept small in numbers in order that the Scoutmaster should have personal knowledge of each of his boys, this being the only possible way for developing the character of the individual. The patrol system was adopted from that of the Constabulary, and for the same reason. An extensive system of badges was instituted as in the Army and the Constabulary for excellence in different branches of work.

THE AIM. The aim of the movement was to make good citizens, and for this reason it was judged unnecessary to introduce military drill.

SEVENTH: What was your purpose in forming the Boy Scouts organization? Please state as fully as you can the ideals you had in mind, the defects in existing boys, work which were planned to be remedied and any other matters which will throw light on your purpose.

To the seventh interrogatory he saith: My purpose in forming the Scout organization was to counteract, if possible, the deterioration, moral and physical, which shortened our rising generation, and to train the boys to be more efficient and characterful citizens. The defect in existing boys' organizations was plain that they were not sufficiently attractive from the boys' point of view, nor wide enough in their scope of their training, nor sufficiently varied, to meet the changeable nature of the boy (e. g., the Boys' Brigade made the boy's ideas partially by a semi-military organization with military drill, but the training underlying this was mainly that of the Bible Class. Boys' Clubs were generally intended to give better environments outside of the class and factory walls, but failed to supply activities sufficient to hold the boys).

Although the United States Boy Scout as defendant urged that the "plaintiff has no right to an exclusive use of either the term 'Scout, or 'Boy Scout,' " the fact was so clearly established that the Boy Scouts of America was the American development of the original English ideal and use of the word Scout that eventually judgment was given by consent protecting the Boy Scouts of America and restraining the United States Boy Scout from continuing as such.

In part this judgment of the Supreme Court of the State of New York decreed as follows:

"It is ordered, adjudged and decreed that the defendant (the United States Boy Scout), its successors and assigns, its directors, officers, agents and employees, and each of them be and they and each of them hereby are enjoined and restrained from using in its or their name or names or otherwise, the words 'Boy Scout' or 'Boy Scouts' or the word 'Scout,' 'Scouts,' or 'Scouting' or any adaptation thereof.

from using in any manner a uniform similar to the official uniform of the plaintiff or with said Boy Scout movement.  And it is further

"Ordered, adjudged and decreed that the defendant, its successors and assigns, its directors, officers, agents and employees and each of them, be and they and each of them hereby are enjoined and restrained from referring to themselves or any of them as successor or successors to an organization using in its name the words 'Boy Scouts' or 'Boy Scout' or the word 'Scout,' 'Scouts' or 'Scouting."

For a refutation of Baden-Powell's version of the origins and sources of Scouting, see:

Tim Jeal's Baden-Powell 

The only biography that explores in depth all of the complexity of the genius who inventing Scouting.  When you purchase the book using the above link, a small referral fee is returned to The Inquiry Net to help defer the expense of keeping us online.  






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