Earlier in the year, I shared some information about Cincinnatus, the farmer, dictator and consul to the Roman Empire and his willingness to serve his country in its time of need regardless of personal and financial sacrifice. I also mentioned the Society of Cincinnati and George Washington which I would like to discuss in greater detail.
The Society of the Cincinnati is the old military hereditary society in the United States and laid the foundation as a model for most hereditary societies which followed. Each original member had served as an officer for three years in the Continental Army or Navy. There were also honorary members including Benjamin Franklin. To be a member today, you must have ancestral lineage to the original members.
The Society was founded in May 1783 and was the brainchild of Major General Henry Knox and established by the senior officers of the Continental Army, many of whom were Masons, and representatives from each of the original 13 states. Its structure was multi-faceted, with authority residing within each state plus a French Society. Initial meetings were presided over by General Baron von Steuben and were held at his home in Fishkill, NY.
Its goals were not unlike the basic tenets of Freemasonry. It provided ongoing fellowship for the officers of the Continental Army, and assisted the families, windows and orphans of its members. Original members pledged one month’s pay to his states society which funded the charity extended to members and their families in need. In addition, it secured private donations for veteran’s pensions, worked to preserve the rights that our nation had won and promoted the continued union of the United States
Brother George Washington served as the first President General of the Society of the Cincinnati. His advocacy of the Society’s interests, as well as the strength of his reputation, helped establish it during its formative years. Our new nation was very fragile after the Revolutionary War. The Society provided the means to keep the Continental Army and Navy officers in contact with each other and if a situation arose that could endanger our Country, he would have immediate access to his most experienced military leaders. Not unlike Cincinnatus and other good men who have responded when called upon.
Ted J. Parry, WM