History of the Society

 The Society of the Cincinnati was founded on May 13, 1783, in upstate New York on the west bank of the Hudson River near Mt. Gulian, at the last encampment of the American Army.  General George Washington was chosen to be the first President-General of the Society.  Subsequently, state societies were founded in each of the original thirteen states and in France in order to maintain regular communications.  The Virginia Society was formed on October 8, 1783, in Fredericksburg, Va., with General George Weedon serving as its President.  Collectively, the state societies are referred to as the “General Society.”

The men who formed the “One Society of Friends” had great admiration for the Roman General Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus, who, after defeating an invading army, returned to private citizenship.  With respect for the classic example of the citizen-soldier set by Cincinnatus, the officers chose to call themselves “The Society of the Cincinnati.”

As stated in its Institution, the first goal of the Society was to perpetuate the remembrance of the American Revolution and the mutual friendships which had been formed among the officers of the American Army.   The second purpose of the Society was to provide financial assistance to the families of officers who may be in need.  The original members each contributed one month’s salary to the state societies to build a fund to meet these obligations.

The Virginia Society made no provision for successor members.  Consequently, the Society disbanded in 1824.  The money remaining in the Treasury of the Society was given to Washington Academy (now Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Va., following the example of George Washington who had donated his James River Canal Co. stock to the college.

Interest in the Society revived in the late 1800’s.  The Virginia Society was readmitted to the General Society in 1896 and incorporated in 1935.  Today the Society has approximately 650 members living in 40 states. 



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