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 department headquarters. On June 26, 1866, a call had been issued for a convention, to be held at Springfield, Illinois, July 12, 1866. The convention was held on this date and the Department of Illinois organized, General John M. Palmer being elected department commander. Doctor Stephenson was recognized, however, in the adoption of a resolution which proclaimed him as ‘the head and front of the organization.’ He continued to act as commander-in-chief. In October, 1866, departments had been formed in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, and Minnesota, and posts had been organized in Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. On October 31, 1866, Doctor Stephenson issued General Orders No. 13, directing a national convention to be held at Indianapolis, November 20, 1866, signing this order as commander-in-chief. In accordance with this order, the First National Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic convened at Indianapolis on the date appointed, and was called to order by Commander-in-Chief Stephenson. A committee on permanent organization was appointed and its report nominating the officers of the convention was adopted, and General John M. Palmer became the presiding officer of the convention. The committee on constitution submitted a revised form of the constitution which, with a few amendments, was adopted. Resolutions were adopted calling the attention of Congress to the laws in regard to bounties, recommending the passage of a law making it obligatory for every citizen to give actual service when called upon in time of war, instead of providing a substitute, and suggesting, for the consideration of those in authority, the bestowal of positions of honor and profit upon worthy and competent soldiers and sailors. General S. A. Hurlbut, of Illinois, was elected commander-in-chief and Doctor Stephenson, adjutant-general. The national organization of the Grand Army of the Republic was thus fairly started. The Second National Encampment was held at Philadelphia, January 15, 16, and 17, 1868, when General John A. Logan was elected commander-in-chief. At the Third National Encampment at Cincinnati, May 12 and 13, 1869, General Logan was reelected commander-in-chief. It appears from Adjutant-General Chipman's report at this encampment that, at the Philadelphia encampment in 1868, there were represented twenty-one departments, which claimed a total membership of over two hundred thousand. But there had been very few records kept, either in departments or at national headquarters, and there seems to have been very little communication between posts and headquarters. At the Cincinnati encampment, the adjutant-general reported that the aggregate number of departments was thirty-seven, and that the number of posts, reported and estimated, was 2050. At the encampment at Cincinnati, in 1869, the grade system of membership was adopted, establishing three grades of recruit, soldier, and veteran. This system met with serious opposition and was finally abandoned at the encampment at Boston, in 1871. It was claimed that to this system much of the great falling-off in membership was due. It is a fact that, at this period, there had been a large decrease in the numbers in the order, particularly in the West. But the cause of this may be laid to a variety of reasons. The order, at first, seems to have had a rapid growth. Because of the incompleteness of the records, it is impossible even to estimate what the strength of the membership in those early days was. But the real solidity of the order was not established until some years had passed. On May 5, 1868, Commander-in-Chief Logan, by General Orders No. 11, had assigned May 30, 1868, as a memorial day which was to be devoted to the strewing of flowers on the graves of deceased comrades who had died in the defense of their country during the Civil War. The idea of Memorial Day had been suggested to Adjutant-General Chipman in a letter from some comrade then living in Cincinnati, whose name has been lost. At the encampment at Washington, in 1870, Memorial Day was established by an amendment to the rules and regulations. It has been made a holiday in many of the States, and is now observed throughout the country, not only by the Grand Army but by the people generally, for the decoration of the graves of the soldiers. The first badge of the order was adopted in 1866. A change was made in October, 1868, in its design, and a further change in October, 1869. At the national encampment of 1873, the badge was adopted which is substantially the one that exists to-day, a few minor changes being made in 1886. It is now made from captured cannon purchased from the Government. The bronze button worn on the lapel of the coat was adopted in 1884. The matter of pensions has, in the nature of things, occupied much of the time of the Grand Army encampments, both national and departmental. The order has kept careful watch over pension legislation; its recommendations have been conservative, and of late years have been adopted by Congress to a very great extent. Aid
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