north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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Essay:
     The Society of the Cincinnati, the oldest military hereditary society in the United States, was the brainchild of Major General Henry Knox. With the support of George Washington, Knox inaugurated the Society and helped draft the articles upon which it is based. The organizational meetings were held at the Verplank House in Fishkill, New York, in May 1783. The rationale for the group’s creation was to provide a means of ongoing fellowship for the officers of the Continental Army and to develop charitable funds to assist the families of original members. The Society also acted on behalf of the Army's officers in an effort to secure military pensions for Revolutionary War veterans. George Washington served as the first President General of the Society of the Cincinnati, holding the post from December 1783 until his death in 1799.

     The North Carolina Society was formed in October 1783 by men from throughout the state who gathered in Hillsborough. These were some of the most powerful men in the state and their meeting followed the national pattern. Membership was limited to officers who had served in the recent Revolution and their descendants. The North Carolina Society grew throughout the remainder of the eighteenth century, gaining membership and organization but, with the death of the last original member in 1837, the organization went dormant until the late nineteenth century when the society was revived by descendants of the original group. The society since has flourished and provides grants and funding to educational endeavors concerned with our founding fathers and patriotic service.

     The name of the society is derived from the story of the Roman farmer, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus, who was called to leave his fields and lead Rome into battle. After returning victorious, Cincinnatus worked his fields until he was called upon to serve as temporary dictator of early Rome. Once again, he laid down his power to return to a normal life when his job was done. This example of unwavering service—a willingness to lay down personal power for the good of the republic—is the model upon which the Society of the Cincinnati was based.


References:
Curtis Carroll Davis, Revolution’s Godchild: The Birth, Death, and Regeneration of the Society of the Cincinnati in North Carolina (1976)
Society website:
http://www.societyofthecincinnati.org/
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north carolina highway historical marker program


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