Boys State was originated by the Illinois Department of The American Legion in 1934. The plan was adopted by the National Organization in 1945 and has since been put into operation in forty-nine states. Although Hawaii does not operate a program, it does send delegates to attend the program of other states. American Legion Posts in the Panama Canal Zone, the District of Columbia, and Mexico have, in the past, sent delegates to Boys State in Mississippi. The American Legion Department of Mississippi incorporated Magnolia Boys State on May 2, 1939 and the first session was held in Jackson, June 11-17, 1939, and every year thereafter, except for 1943, 1945, 1949, and 1970.
In 1955, the name was changed from Magnolia Boys State, Inc. to The American Legion Boys State, Inc. Since the inception of Boys State in Mississippi, over 20,000 delegates have attended these sessions. Those chosen to attend have just completed their junior year of high school and possess qualities of honor, character, courage, leadership, service, and discipline. Each local American Legion Post is assigned a quota by the Department Headquarters and where this quota more than one, the Post usually offers the opportunity of sponsorship to civic clubs, churches, schools, Boys State alumni, civic leaders, businesses, and other responsible organizations. On occasion, when a young man is deserving but a sponsor cannot be located, he may be sponsored by his own family through his local American Legion Post or State Department. The cost to sponsor a delegate for Boys State is $275.00.