Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Pennsylvania

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Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Pennsylvania

The General Society of the Cincinnati was founded in May, 1783 at Mount Gulian, the Verplanck family estate at Fishkill, New York, by Continental Army officers who fought in the American Revolution. This was before the Treaty of Peace was signed and before the British evacuated New York. The Honorable Major General Baron von Steuben, being the senior officer, presided at the organizational meetings. Within 12 months, Constituent Societies were established in the 13 original states and in France under the auspices of the General Society of the Cincinnati. Of the 5,500 officers who were eligible to join, about 2,150 did so. George Washington was elected the first President General of theSociety in December 1783 until his death in 1799. He was succeeded by Alexander Hamilton.

The Society is named for Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus, a Roman farmer of the Fifth Century B.C, who, like Washington, was called from his fields to lead his country's army in battle. Cincinnatus, as did Washington, returned from war a triumphant leader, declined honors, and went back to his farm. Washington, as did Cincinnatus, lived up to the Society's Motto: "He gave up everything to serve the republic."

The Cincinnati Society is unique because: It is the oldest military hereditary society in this country. It is also our first military beneficial society. Each Original Member was obliged to pledge to his State Society one month's officer's pay, the interest therefrom going to those members and their families "unfortunately" in need. At a time when military pensions were not yet a reality due to the virtual unwillingness of Congress to tax, this had an immediate and continuing importance. Pennsylvania alone, up to about 1860, gave over $60,000 to support needy memebrs, their widows, and children. The Society worked to influence Congress for pensions for surviving Revolutionary veterans, an end achieved in 1832. Subsequent American military pensions stem from the Society's early initiative.

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