The Beginnings of JSA
The idea for what is known as the Junior State was first conceived by Professor E.A. Rogers, founder of the Montezuma Mountain School for Boys in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains in the early 1930s. An innovative educational philosopher and teacher, Prof. Rogers had long maintained that one of the primary needs of a democracy was to train its youth in the essentials of good government. He believed that without an informed populace, a democracy is worthless.
Troubled by what he perceived as the corrosive effects the Great Depression was having on American democracy, Prof. Rogers responded with a challenge to his students to engage them in the issues of the day. The students resolved to, “make politics a noble profession,” and offer training in statesmanship and leadership. The training would be student-led and experiential, with students electing office holders and setting priorities. In 1934 he encouraged nearby schools to send delegations to a “Conference of Youth on American Ideals” and on November 9, 1934, founded The Junior Statesmen of America.