Cincinnati, Society of the

Cincinnati, Society of the [Lat. pl. of Cincinnatus], organization formed (1783) by officers of the Continental Army just before their disbanding after the American Revolution. The organization, with a constitution drafted by Gen. Henry Knox, was founded for fraternal, patriotic, and allegedly nonpolitical purposes. George Washington was made president of the national society, and auxiliary state societies were organized. Membership was limited to officers of the Continental Army, certain officers of the French army that assisted the Continentals, and the eldest male descendants of both. The society provoked much opposition among the zealous Republicans of the time, who attacked it as the beginning of an aristocratic military nobility. The Tammany societies of New York, Philadelphia, and other cities were founded partly in opposition to it. Beginning in 1893 a successful revival of many of the defunct state organizations was made, and the society is still active as a patriotic service organization. It has about 3,500 members in one French and 13 U.S. branches (representing the original states).

See W. S. Thomas, The Society of the Cincinnati, 1783–1935 (1935); E. E. Hume, ed., General Washington's Correspondence concerning the Society of the Cincinnati (1941).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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