About The Society of the Cincinnati
The Society of the Cincinnati was founded in 1783, as the American Revolution drew to a close, to represent the interests of and to preserve the ideals and fellowship of the commissioned officers of the Continental Army. The Society of the Cincinnati is the oldest private patriotic organization in the United States. The Society is also our nation’s first hereditary organization. Membership in the Society is held today by a single male descendant, or in some State Societies a single male descendant and his son, of a commissioned officer of the Continental Army.
Within 12 months of the founding, a constituent Society had been organized in each of the thirteen states and in France. Of about 5,500 men originally eligible for membership, 2,150 had joined within a year. King Louis XVI ordained the French Society of the Cincinnati, which was organized on July 4, 1784.
George Washington was elected the first President General of the Society. He served from December 1783 until his death in 1799. The second President General was Alexander Hamilton, the third President General of the Society was Charles Pinckney. In 1808, he ran unsuccessfully for President of the United States against James Madison. Its members have included notable military and political leaders, including twenty-three signers of the United States Constitution.
Now in its third century, with over four thousand members, The Society of the Cincinnati is still composed of thirteen State Societies, one for each of the thirteen original states, and a French Society comprising the descendants of French officers who fought for American’s independence. Members belong to the state society of the state that issued their Revolutionary War ancestor his commission.
The Society of the Cincinnati is dedicated to promoting scholarly and popular interest in the American Revolution and its extraordinary leaders. The Society promotes interest in the American Revolution through its library and museum collections, exhibitions, educational programs, endow professorships, lecture series, awards, educational materials publications and other activities. The Society’s library, at its headquarters at Anderson House in Washington, D.C., preserves and provide access to one of the world’s great collections of books and manuscripts illuminating the history of the War for Independence and a remarkable collection of art and artifacts illustrating that war and the long and rich history of the Society.