John C. Babcock is a founding father of the NYAC and a 1981 Hall of Fame inductee.
Babcock was born on September 6th, 1836, in Warwick, Rhode Island. In 1855, he moved to Chicago, where he was introduced to William B. Curtis.
During the Civil War, Babcock served as a scout in the Army of the Potomac. He made maps for General George McClellan and was renowned for his remarkable topography skills. Fortunately for the NYAC, his acumen was not limited to the battlefield.
After the war, Babcock was instrumental in organizing the nascent world of amateur rowing in the United States. In 1872, Babcock became the first President of the National Association of Amateur Oarsmen. Although the NAAO no longer exists in name, it eventually became a part of USRowing: the sport’s current governing body.
In 1866, Curtis invited Babcock to be a member of their gym at 200 Sixth Avenue in New York City, where he and Henry Buermeyer had attempted to form an athletic club. After two years of failed attempts, the men formally organized the New York Athletic Club on September 8th, 1868. Babcock was the Club’s first vice president, serving under President J. Edward Russell.
Babcock died on November 20th, 1908 at the age of 72.