A Guide to the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia, Records, 1778-1941 Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia 26102

A Guide to the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia, Records, 1778-1941

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Accession Number 26102


Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia
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Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000
Phone: (804) 692-3888 (Archives Reference)
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Email: archdesk@lva.virginia.gov(Archives)
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© 2003 By the Library of Virginia.

Processed by: Alex Lorch

Library of Virginia
Accession number
Records, 1778-1941
Physical Characteristics
2 reels (miscellaneous reels 6026-6027)
Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia
Physical Location
Organization Records Collection, Accession 26102

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia, Records, 1778-1941. Accession 26102, Organization Records Collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

This collection is on deposit from the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia at The Library of Virginia from circa 1935-1940.

Related Material

Henry Lee, Membership certificate, 10 October 1785, Accession 20007a

Society of the Cincinnati, Papers, 1783-1861, Accession 24646

George Washington, Letter, 24 October 1783, Accession 21875

Treasurer's Office Inventory, entry no. 54, Special funds receipt ledger, 1823-1844, State Records Collection, TOI 54

Historical Information

The Society of the Cincinnati was formed on 10-13 May 1783 by American Revolutionary Army officers who met at Mount Gulian, the American Army's cantonment on the east bank of the Hudson River. After resigning his post as General, George Washington (1732-1799) accepted an invitation to become the society's first president. Major General Henry Knox (1750-1806) was the secretary and for years the guiding spirit of the organization. Membership extended to those officers of the Continental Army and Navy who had served to the end of the war or had resigned with honor after three years of service and to those who had been rendered supernumerary because of regimental reorganization by Congress. In addition, the institution provided that officers who had died in service could be represented in the Society by their eldest male descendants. The society was named in honor of Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus, who after a distinguished military career in the service of the Roman republic, had returned to civilian life. The Society of the Cincinnati was the first patriotic society organized in the United States. Today the Society is a not-for-profit organization supporting educational, cultural, and literary activities that promote the ideals of liberty and constitutional government.

Within a year constituent societies were established in the thirteen states and in France by officers and members of the general society. Officers established the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia on 6 October 1783 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Members selected Brigadier General George Weedon of Westmoreland County as their president pro tem at the first meeting; he later served several more terms as society president. They also chose Horatio Gates as the permanent society president at the initial meeting. Members adopted the general society's articles of institution or charter and pledged to send five members to the national convention the following May. Notable members at the first meeting were Edward Carrington, William Heth, James Wood, and Henry Lee. The hereditary principle embraced by other state societies was abandoned by the Virginia society. Accordingly the Virginia society dissolved in 1824 after most of the original members had died. Pension funds were transferred to the state treasury and disbursed by the state treasurer. The Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia was reformed in the 1890's by descendants of the original members.

Scope and Content Information

Records, 1778-1941 (bulk 1783-1848), of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia consisting of correspondence including letters and circular letters, membership certificates, a membership roster, military commissions, minutes including a minute book and printed proceedings, muster rolls, publications, and financial reports. The collection material principally concerns society functions and membership spanning the formative years of the society in the 1780's until its last meeting in 1824. There is also material concerning the disbursement of pension funds following the last meeting of the society in 1824 and correspondence with society president Edgar Erskine Hume (1889-1952).





The collection is organized into the following four series:
Series I: Correspondence, 1783-1941 (bulk 1783-1808)
Series II: Membership files, 1778-1806
Series III: Minutes, 1783-1810
Series IV: Treasurer's Papers and Reports, 1786-1848

Contents List

Reel 6026
Proceedings of the Virginia State Society of the Cincinnati, 1783-1824.

Volume, 1783-1824, of the proceedings of the Virginia State Society of the Cincinnati containing minutes, accounts, correspondence, resolutions, other papers concerning the Society in Virginia.

Series I: Correspondence, 1783-1941 (bulk 1783-1808)
reel: 6026

Contains letters, circular letters, and associated minutes and proceedings, principally exchanged between the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia leaders and members, the general Society of the Cincinnati, and the various state branches of the society. Sent with some of the correspondence are documents forwarded to the Virginia society by the general society or provided by Virginia society delegates to the annual convention. These include a written proposal for the establishment of the general society, printed proceedings of the annual convention of the general society in Philadelphia in 1784, 1787, 1790-1791. Minutes and circular letters were also sent from state branches to the Virginia society. Letters from members in reference to pensions and concerning the appropriation of funds for Washington Academy and Washington College also are included herein. Also contains correspondence sent to Edgar Erskine Hume from various dignitaries including Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John J. Pershing, and John Rockefeller, Jr. Notable society member correspondents include Alexander Balmain, Edward Carrington, Samuel Coleman, William Heth, Henry Knox, George Weedon, James Wood, and his wife Jean Wood.

  • reel 6026
    Proposal for the establishment of the Society of the Cincinnati, 10-13 May 1783
  • reel 6026
    Correspondence with the general society by the Virginia society, 1783-1799
  • reel 6026
    Other state societies' letters and minutes, 1783-1799
  • reel 6026
    Miscellaneous correspondence, 1783-1808
  • reel 6026
    Circular letters from the general society to the Virginia society, 1786-1808
  • reel 6026
    Printed proceedings of the Philadelphia general meeting, 1787
  • reel 6026
    Printed proceedings of the Philadelphia general meetings, 1790-1791
  • reel 6026
    Letters in reference to pensions, 1791-1808
  • reel 6026
    Letters concerning the Washington Academy/College Fund, 1803
  • reel 6026
    Letters to Edgar Erskine Hume, 1941
Series II: Membership files, 1778-1806
reel: 6027

There are applications for membership, letters concerning members, military commissions concerning members, muster rolls and rosters containing the names of Virginia society members, and a membership roster, 1785. There is also a membership certificate issued to Andrew Waggoner by the society.

  • reel 6027
    Roster, 11 September 1778, of the officers of the 11th Regiment, Virginia Militia
  • reel 6027
    Applications for membership, 1783-1791
  • reel 6027
    Commission, 10 October 1783, issued to Charles Scott
  • reel 6027
    Membership certificate, 1 March 1787, issued to Andrew Waggoner
  • reel 6027
    Muster roll, 7 October 1806, of the officers of the 2nd Regiment, Virginia Militia
Series III: Minutes, 1783-1810
reel: 6027

Comprises minutes and miscellaneous resolves from meetings of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia.

  • reel 6027
    Loose minutes of the Virginia society, 1783-1810
  • reel 6027
    Miscellaneous resolves of the Virginia society, 1786-1788
  • reel 6027
    Minutes, 13 December 1802
Series IV: Treasurer's papers and reports, 1786-1848
reel: 6027

Includes papers and reports concerning society finances and pension allotments during the early years of the organization. Treasurer's papers, 1829-1848 principally comprise orders and notices, 1829-1848, issued by Lawson Burfoot and Fabius M. Lawson (1805-1857), Virginia State Treasurers and trustees for the Society of Cincinnati pension fund, noting pension payments due to members and deceased members' families. Treasurer's reports, 1786-1802, are a) an abstract, 1791-1802, of disbursements for charitable purposes made by the society; b) a statement of interest recuperated from loans, 1792-1802; c) an abstract, 1786-1791, of military certificates purchased by the society; d) an abstract of delinquent members; and e) a report, 1802, examining the treasurer's report previously issued by William Heth (in printed and written form).

  • reel 6027
    Treasurer's reports, 1786-1802
  • reel 6027
    Treasurer's papers, 1828-1848