President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt gave his support as a Vice-President of BSA and Chief Scout Citizen. Teddy achieved a brief but distinguished military career as commander of the famous "Rough Riders" cavalry regiment in the battle of San Juan Hill. He went on to be elected Governor of New York and President of the United States. He was one of the first champions of the environment as well as an avid outdoorsman. President Roosevelt protected 148 million acres as national forests. He has the distinction of being honored on no less than sixteen U.S. postage stamps, as well as on Mount Rushmore. 557c, 586, 602, 637, 648, 663, 674, 830, 856, 973,1011, 1023,1039, 2218g, 2523, C88.
Theodore Roosevelt was no longer President of the United States when the Boy Scouts of America was started in 1910. But he was an ardent booster of the organization. He was a troop committeeman of Troop 39, Oyster Bay, N.Y., and first council commissioner of Nassau County Council. As a former President he was elected an Honorary Vice-President of the Boy Scouts of America. He was the first and only man designated as the "Chief Scout Citizen." For many years after his death in 1919, several thousand Scouts and leaders in the New York area made annual pilgrimages to his grave in Oyster Bay.
Teddy was a very vocal supporter of Scouting. Early Scout Julian Salomon said, "The two things that gave Scouting great impetus and made it very popular were the uniform and Teddy Roosevelt's jingoism."
The National Council, Boy Scouts of America, chartered the Nassau County Council, Boy Scouts of America in 1917. In September 1997, the council changed its name from the Nassau County Council to recognize and honor Theodore Roosevelt, its founder and first Council Commissioner.
In a letter to a Scout executive published in the first U.S. Boy Scout handbook, Roosevelt wrote,
The movement is one for efficiency and patriotism. It does not try to make soldiers of Boy Scouts but to make boys who will turn out as men to be fine citizens and who will, if their country needs them, make better soldiers for having been Scouts.
No man is a good citizen unless he so acts as to show that he actually uses the Ten Commandments and translates the Golden Rule into his life conduct and I don't mean by this in exceptional cases under spectacular circumstances, but I mean applying the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule in the ordinary affairs of every-day life. I hope the Boy Scouts will practice truth and square dealing and courage and honesty. The man who counts and the boy who counts are the man and boy who steadily endeavor to build up, to improve, to better living conditions everywhere and all about them.
The same qualities that mean success or failure to the nation as a whole mean success or failure in men and boys individually. To be helpless, self-indulgent, or wasteful will turn the boy into a mighty poor kind of man just as the indulgence in such vices by the men of a nation means the ruin of a nation. Any boy is worth nothing if he has not got courage, courage to stand up against the forces of evil and courage to stand up in the right path. Let him be unselfish and gentle, as well as strong and brave. It should be a matter of pride to him that he is not afraid of anyone and that he scorns not to be gentle and considerate to everyone, especially to those who are weaker than he is. If he doesn't treat his mother and sisters well, then he is a poor creature no matter what else he does; just as a man who doesn't treat his wife well is a poor kind of citizen no matter what his other qualities may be. Let the boy remember he must have knowledge, he must cultivate a sound body and a good mind and train himself so that he can act with quick decision in any crisis that may arise. Mind, eye, muscle all must be trained so that the boy can master himself and thereby learn to master his fate.