At American University, in the heart of Washington. Boys State had been founded in Illinois in 1935 as a response to the Young Pioneer Camps associated with socialism. The first event was held at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. As with so many other Legion programs, it spread from the grass roots up. The first Boys Forum of National Government convened in 1946 at American. It was adopted as an official youth activity by the 1946 Legion National Convention. In 1949, it was renamed Boys Nation.
American hosted Boys Nation from 1946 to 1951, and from 1969 to 1985. From 1952 to 1967, it had been held at the University of Maryland, and in 1968 at Georgetown University in Washington. Marymount University in Arlington, Va. has served as the host of Boys Nation since 1986.