Not a highly, educated man in the sense of formal schooling, Henry Giessenbier stands as a chief visionary, profit and philosopher of the Junior Chamber movement. Since Jaycees are not inclined to delve heavily into history, many present day leaders may not realize that their speeches seldom reflect the basic ideas not previously expressed by Giessenbier.

The words of a man are not necessarily the core of a man but in the case of the USJCC founder, who was also a man of action, they help draw a more clear picture of his personality, aspirations and beliefs.

With this in mind, extracts from speeches and writings of Giessenbier and comments concerning him are presented, carrying the man and his mind through the key years of civic endeavor. All titles only provide a topic and are not Giessenbier's.

(Address before the Herculaneum Club, June 26, 1915)

"This club started about five years ago with five members and now we have expanded until we number nine. I regret that none of the charter members are now in the organization except myself. But, that is true of all societies. The test of time finds some wanting and the good and bad are sifted out, as in this case, until it now seems as if we are a body of members that will endure and make the Herculaneum Club a name that will be known all over the confines of this large city of ours."

(Address before the YMPCA, October 27, 1915, two weeks after its founding)

"To secure continued harmony, everything of a personal nature should be studiously avoided, any allusion to the personal appearance of another member, reference to his peculiarities, ridicule of his private opinions on political or religious matters, is very ungentlemanly and will in the end react to the injury of the person making the remarks. Such a course of action will sometimes make a life-long enemy of the person alluded to.

Now there is one evil which we should be very careful to keep out of this association and that is knocking. When a member, part, or division of an organization spends any of its time knocking the rest of the organization, the whole intent and purpose of that organization will suffer."

(Address before the YMPCA, November 18, 1915)

"I am indeed very glad to note the large increase in membership and my heart rings with pride to know that we have in this association members with that determination to bring this organization to the front. But, we must impress upon our minds that the chief asset of or membership should be loyal members, members who love the work and support the policies of this organization and whose self interests are equal proportions with the interest of this association because loyalty always creates sincerity of purpose and no man can possess a greater charm than that of sincerity; it begets interest, makes confidence and gives the great power to convince."

(Address before the YMCA, December 16, 1915)

In this day of progression, the day of the young man, the day filled with golden opportunities, it is he who has the adaptability and the conception to realize these great possibilities, who is the successful young man."

(Address before the YMPCA, January 13, 1916)

"Now boys, get busy! Go out in the highways and byways of our city and cull out the material which will prove a shining light in the upbuilding of this great order; and, in the years to come, you, as well as I and others, will consider one of the great acts of our lives was that we acted as the architects, as the builders of the Young Men's Progressive Civic Association."

(Address to the Junior Citizens July 31, 1917, just before departing for military service with Company L)

"I wish to express to you a vision of the future. We see a world filled with happy homes, the firesides of content; we see a world with the throne of autocracy crumbled and where autocrats are dust. The aristocracy of idleness will be purged form the earth. We will see a world of peace, adorned with every form of art, with music, where there are thrilled voices and where lips are rich with words of love and truth. We see the whole world encircled with God's message of 'Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward All Men'."

(Date of address sometime before 1920)

"I know that before the world can be redeemed by beauty it must be saved form crime."

(Date of address unknown)

"The future of America rests squarely on the moral and religious conscience of the individual citizen, upon his sense of responsibility to him, who has honored America through the faith of our fathers. Nations forgetful of God have decayed. Let the inspiration and power of your church steady your citizenship and help you meet your responsibility for America's future."

(Address before the USJCC Caucus, January 21, 1920)

"It shall have for its prime purposes:

  • to increase and promote cooperation among young men's business and civic organizations of the country;
  • to increase their efficiency and to create and foster the growth of such organizations;
  • to provide avenues of intelligent participation of young men in the study of city, state and national problems;
  • to advance their character and business efficiency of its members along clearly defined constructive channels;
  • it shall further propose to secure cooperative action in advancing the common purposes of its members;
  • to secure uniformity of opinion and concentration of action upon questions affecting the civic and commercial interest of the country;
  • this proposed organization shall at all times be non-religious and non-political;
  • it shall be an organization to render service.

I believe the great task that is assigned to us is to put into execution those purposes, and my fellow delegates, may I say that in your hands lies the destiny of a great organization. Let us build it to national recognition. Let us organize in it the interest of young men for a greater America. Let us not fail in this task."

(Speech reported in March 10, 1920, edition of Belleville, Illinois, ADVOCATE. Giessenbier was at the city interesting the young men in the coming June convention.)

"To any young man who desires to improve himself intellectually, spiritually and financially, my advice is to join the Junior Chamber of Commerce. To any young man who would like to become a vital living, active part of the commonwealth in which he lives, again I would say, 'Join the Junior Chamber of Commerce.'

I offer this suggestion advisedly, for unquestionably the Junior Chamber of Commerce, under the various names of Young Men's progressive Civic Association and Junior Citizens, offered the right opportunities and provided the proper incentives that were instrumental in my personal development and progress.

Six years ago, I was a clerk at the International Bank of St. Louis. Today, my position is cashier at Scruggs-Vandervoot and Barney Bank.

My work with the organization resulted in four distinct personal gains:

  1. The ability to approach with case and confidence men of prominence and influence in the community, due to contact and association with them in Junior Chamber of Commerce meetings.
  2. The ability to think and express my thoughts more clearly and intelligently. This gain is the natural result of extemporaneous speaking, serving as chairman of committees and the like.
  3. A position of respect with attractive remuneration
  4. A larger understanding and finer appreciation of the civic political and industrial side of the city's community life.

A Junior Chamber of Commerce in any city, if conducted properly, offers the same advantages to any right-minded young man imbued with the spirit of service. It is indeed worthwhile to have organizations to bring active thinking young men together to form and carry out definite plans for sane, steady progress in the city's life.

If you be live in the power of practical ideals and active organization, join the Junior Chamber of Commerce. The dues you pay and time you spend in this work will be the best investment you have ever made.

(Date of address unknown, likely about 1920)

"The time is not in the not too far distant when we shall see over 100 cities dotting the nation with Junior Chambers, each rendering a definite service toward the upbuilding of their respective communities; all operating under the undisputable principle that to build a great nation we must first build great cities. I cannot but think that the future will bring us a total enrollment of at least 500,000 young men, actively engaged in civic activities, never consulting their self interest, fostering special privileges or class distinction in any form which might be the germ of misunderstanding. The local organizations should be city deep and city wide, ready to consider all problems for the common good and to develop truth at all times."

(From a historical memoir written in about 1934)

"I love this organization because it is an American institution promoting genuine Americanism. I love its members because they are loyal citizens in action who support but one government and who recognize but one flag, all working for a common goal, a Greater America.

We are part of an organization supporting a great popular government and if popular government means anything to you and to me, we must give up a certain portion of our time toward being a part of this popular government by taking an active interest in civic life of this nation through the channels and instrumentalities of this organization."



Close Window