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United States Power Squadron ® History
On 2 February 1914 at the New York Yacht Club, selected representatives of 20 yacht clubs and yachting
associations from Maine to Chesapeake Bay met and launched the United States Power Squadrons.
On 26 January 1994 at the Annual Meeting held in Florida, there were representatives from 450 Squadrons
with a total membership of over 90,000 extending from Maine to Yokohama and from the Panama Canal to Alaska.
Between these two dates an idea became a reality, grew, almost died, and was reborn to reach a zenith
of unparalleled service to the boating world. In the early Spring of 1912 when Roger Upton, Vice Commodore
of the Boston Yacht Club, conceived the idea of a "club within a club" for development of new forms of
cruising and racing for motor-driven yachts, and for the nautical education and training of motor boat men,
it is not likely that he foresaw the tremendous ultimate expansion of USPS from coast to coast and beyond
the limits of the continental United States. Upton's organizational plan for motor boat cruises, modeled
on Naval fleet maneuvers, with annual drill requirements, together with the development of flag signals,
a fairly stiff examination in piloting in order to fly a distinguishing pennant, and the regular
educational sessions, envisioned greater respect for the sport of motor boating.
During World War I, USPS devoted its efforts to night classes, teaching all branches of seamanship,
navigation, signaling, boat handling and naval procedure. Great numbers of Squadron members served in
the Navy as "Navigation Inspectors", and in various civilian capacities.
When in 1919, interest in USPS began to wan after World War I, due to the passing of the emergency
lack of enthusiasm for drills, etc.; when the debt of USPS was $450 and dues were un-collectible;
when the Chief Commander's letters to local Squadron Secretaries were not answered -two men of vision
and extraordinary energy proposed and brought about constitutional changes that served as the foundation
on which USPS was rebuilt. These men were Vice Commander A.B. Bennett and Rear Commander Henry A. Jackson.
Bennett became Chief Commander and Jackson Vice Commander in the election of 1920. The changes they
proposed still remain the cornerstone of our strength.
Their recommendations were that a person should, first be a member of the USPS, and then a member
of a local Squadron; the boat drills and maneuvers be eliminated; that membership consist of any worthy
person who passed the entrance examination (rather than being restricted to members of yacht clubs); and
that the USPS should stress nautical education and nothing else. It was an uphill and difficult task.
One thousand letters were written to those on THE ENSIGN mailing list, telling them of the constitutional
changes and asking them to sign on the new ship by paying $1.00 dues in 1920. C/C Bennet also visited many
groups and helped them make a start. One hundred signed on and these boaters were appointed as Local Board
of Examiners. Four years later, in 1924, there were over 400 members, over $400 in the Treasury, and
While our educational organization was being revised, expanded and improved every year, it was not until
the 1930's that our present educational system was developed and made standard. The modern system insists
on a full knowledge of fundamentals as well as of shorter methods. It produces boaters whose nautical
education surpasses that of many professional schools, and is equal in all ways to that of the best.
In World War II over 3,000 members served full-time in the U.S. armed forces. Many taught navigation
and allied subjects in Navy and Coast Guard schools. The original Coast Guard Auxiliary was organized
with the help of the USPS, and a majority of the original Auxiliarists were USPS members. Thousands of
our members served with the Red Cross, Merchant Marine and other war-effort services, where Squadron
training was of untold assistance.
A study of our organizational chart of USPS will show the care and efficiency with which all departments
of our organization are administered. The District organization for executive control through the District
Commanders, and the educational organization of departments for each course, with direction and control
from National Course Chairmen, through the District Educational Officers to the local Squadron teaching
staffs, attest the good judgment that has resulted in a thoroughly integrated and correlated organization.
Our cooperation with governmental agencies and the armed forces has grown both in importance and in
the service we render. Among these cooperative ventures are annual visits by our Educational Department
personnel to the Service Academies in Annapolis and New London; work with the Coast and Geodetic Survey
in the drafting and correcting of charts; attendance at, and work with, the Geneva Conference on
International Communications; mutual visitations and co-operation with the Canadian Power Squadrons,
which were patterned after the USPS; and many other local and national consultations with governmental
bodies to the end that boating may become a safer and more enjoyable recreational activity.
This brief summary of our history would be incomplete without our paying tribute to those of our members
who hallowed the name of USPS by their devotion to our country in time of war. .. It is everlastingly
to our credit that many were better able to serve the cause of our freedom because of the knowledge we
helped them acquire.
For more USPS history and photographs, visit the USPS
National History webpage.