"Let's Form an American Men's Club in Geneva like the one Ben Franklin founded in Paris." - Henry St. Leger, 1951
The American International Club was born as The American Club of Geneva on Thursday, May 17, 1951.
The original idea came from Henry St. Leger, International Standards Organization and Henry W. Dunning, League of Red Cross Societies. Its first constitution established that "the purpose of this organization shall be to foster and promote friendly relationships among American men residing or sojourning in Switzerland." It limited membership to male American citizens, but provided for up to 15% "foreign" associate members.
The other "founding fathers" were: Henry Adkins, Centre d'Etudes Industrielles; Lynn Heinzerling; Associated Press; James MacFarland, US Consulate General; Robert Lead, US Attaché to the Legation; Robert Seaman, Union Carbide; Peter Strauss, International Labor Office; Tracy Strong, World Committee, YMCA; Alexander Tuck; Edward Ward, US. Consul General.
The first president was Henry W. Dunning. The cost of lunch at the Hôtel des Bergues at that time was Fr. 10 per person.
Henry St. Leger, the club's first Treasurer and its second President, sent us a letter that included these points about the club's original formation:
- In forming the club we decided that we should be at least 100 strong.
- We settled for 35 and a lot of promises.
- From the start we decided the 4th of July celebration should be a major Club activity.
- The Speakers Program has always been the most important item.
- Our very first speaker was banker Fred Bates, just back from Japan, and talking on the hot-potato item of General MacArthur's dismissal.