The Society of the Cincinnati
The Society of the Cincinnati is an organization that is as old and as venerable as our Republic. Composed of living descendants of eligible commissioned officers of the Continental Army and Navy, as well as descendants of commissioned officers of the French Army and Navy who served during the Revolutionary War, the Society has 14 branches. Each branch (State Society) is composed of descendants of officers who served in their respective original 13 States’ armed forces and one branch for France, whose help ensured our at victory in the War.
The Society of the Cincinnati was organized on May 13, 1783, at Mount Gulian, in Fishkill, New York*, by Continental officers who fought in the American Revolution, including patriot General Baron Von Steuben, whose headquarters was located at Mount Gulian. The Society was the first veterans’ fraternal organization established in the United States. The Society’s original purpose was to facilitate fellowship, friendship and recognition for officer war veterans of the Continental Army. At a time when there were no “veterans benefits” the Society was also created to act as an “insurance policy” of sorts, an institution that collected funds from every member and which would remit benefits to their fellow officers in time of need. The Society also acted as a powerful organization which would lobby Congress for the back-pay and land grants promised to veteran officers of the War.
George Washington was the Society's President General from 1783 until his death in 1799. Originally a somewhat controversial organization due to its membership being limited to direct male heredity from original officer members, the Society has been active continuously since its founding in 1783, and was a model for many other fraternal organizations and lodges in America. Today, the Society is a not-for-profit organization that supports educational, cultural, and literary activities, promoting the ideals of liberty, heritage and constitutional government.
The name of the Society commemorates Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, a legendary Roman hero of the fifth century B.C. Cincinnatus was twice called to lead Roman armies in defense of the Roman republic, and each time refused rewards for his services, preferring to return to his farm as a simple citizen of the republic. The attachment of the leaders of the American Revolution to the patriotic idealism of Cincinnatus is reflected in the Society's motto: Omnia relinquit servare rempublicam... "He gave up everything to serve the republic."
Mount Gulian is registered as a national historic landmark by Act of Congress due to the establishment of The Society of the Cincinnati on the site in 1783.
Mount Gulian is the New York State Society’s official headquarters.
Anderson House in Washington, D.C. is the national headquarters and museum.
*New York State Society of the Cincinnati incorporated in the state of New Hampshire.