Paul Harris founded Rotary International on the 23rd of February 1905, nearly one century ago.
However he was not the first president of a Rotary club. Kindly explain! There is an easy explanation to this apparent contradiction. Although Paul Harris was the founder and organizer of the first Rotary club in Chicago in 1905, the man selected to be the first president was one of the other founding members, Silvester Schiele.
By the year 1910 there were 16 Rotary clubs, which linked up as an organization called the National Association of Rotary Clubs. Two years later the name was changed to the International Association of Rotary Clubs, as Rotary was organized in Winnipeg, Canada and then in England, Ireland and Scotland. In 1933 the name was changed to Rotary International.
When the first organization of Rotary clubs, the National Association of Rotary Clubs, was created in 1910, Paul Harris was selected as its first president. He served for two years from 1910 to 1912. Thus the founder of the Rotary idea, who declined to be the president of the first Rotary club, became the first president of Rotary International.
Those Rotarians who are interested in further literature about Paul Harris and the history of Rotary International will enjoy visiting the following sites:
“Since the beginning of civilization, there has been a surplus of sayers of things. If there is any one particular in which I would have Rotary distinguished from other organizations, it is in the quality of character which results in the doing of things.”
Paul Harris’ Message to the 1921 RI Convention, Edinburgh, Scotland