A Society is Born!
On March 21, 1895 a group of American businessmen, including Henry Wellcome and John Meiggs, met in Grosvenor Square with U.S. Ambassador Thomas F. Bayard to form The American Society in London. In the ‘Society Rules’ they wrote, “The object of this Society is the promotion of patriotic and social life amongst Americans residing in London.”
Henry S. Wellcome
Sir Henry S. Wellcome, founder of pharmaceutical firm Burroughs Wellcome & Co. takes over as Society Chairman. Wellcome commissioned a large silver cup to present to His Excellency Ambassador John Hay in appreciation for his kind support of The American Society.
The Great War
American Society suspends all dinner dances for the duration of the Great War.
H. Gordon Selfridge
H. Gordon Selfridge, famed department store founder, serves as our most flamboyant Society Chairman. Society events are still regularly held at the Lansdowne Club, Selfridge’s former home.
American Ambulance Great Britain
In June 1940 when a group from the Society sat down to organize the Independence Day party, former chairman Gilbert Carr suggested that instead of a lavish celebration they should do something to help to British war effort and so ‘American Ambulance Great Britain’ was born. During the war the AAGB provided ambulances to attend the scenes of air raids and emergency care in areas most in need. The AAGB’s 300 vehicles and 400 drivers drove over 16 million miles and carried over 850,000 patients. After the war ended all vehicles were donated to local hospitals.
The Society celebrated its Centenary with a reception at the American Embassy hosted by Ambassador William J. Crowe. Pulitzer Prize winner and Librarian of Congress Emeritus, Daniel Boorstin was the Guest of Honor and gave a lecture entitled “George Washington, The Interpretation of Character”. A good sum of money was raised in support of Sulgrave Manor to mark the occasion.
The Loving Cup
The Society’s large silver ‘Loving Cup’, engraved with the names of all past chairmen, was rediscovered in a Lloyd’s Bank safety deposit box in Scotland. The Loving Cup ceremony, symbolizing friendship and unity, has become a fixture of our Thanksgiving celebrations.
The Society celebrates its 125th Anniversary
Always reinventing itself while staying true to its core mission, the Society will mark its birthday with various anniversary events as well as the launch of a newly designed website. This thriving Society continues to host four major events each year including perennial favorites – its famous All-American Independence Day party and the annual black-tie Thanksgiving dinner.
We warmly invite Americans based in the U.K. to apply for membership.