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Representatives or successors of the officers of the Continental Army or Navy described in this article shall be known as Members. All individuals who were members of The Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Jersey, an unincorporated association, on November 13, 2007, the date of the incorporation of such unincorporated association to form the Society, shall be members of the Society. No subsequent changes in membership criteria shall affect the rights of membership of any member during his lifetime.

In addition, lineal male descendants of the individuals described below, who have reached their 18th birthday, after being duly elected and paying a contribution to the Society’s endowment, in such amount as shall be determined by the members from time to time, may become members of the Society, subject to the regulations defined in these bylaws.

  1. Officers of the Continental American Army or Navy who subscribed one month’s pay and signed their names to the general roll of their original State Societies, who were then present with the Army or Navy, or others who signed within six months after the Army or Navy was disbanded, extraordinary cases excepted, to wit:
    1. Officers of the Continental American Army or Navy at the adoption of the Institution, May 13, 1783.
    2. Officers who resigned with honor after three years’ service as Continental Officers.
    3. Continental Officers who were deranged by one of several resolutions of Congress upon the several reforms of the Army.
    4. Continental Officers who served to the end of the war, April 19, 1783.
    5. Continental Officers in any of the above categories who (for reasons satisfactory to the Society) did not comply with the conditions of the Institution within the time specified.
  2. Continental Officers who were killed in battle or died in service.
  3. Continental Officers who served three years in the war and were honorably discharged who were eligible to sign the general rolls but did not do so (the so-called Rule of 1854).

Rule of Successor and Life Membership

In the spirit of the Institution of the Society of the Cincinnati, only one person at a time shall be qualified to be admitted to the position of Hereditary Member representative of a propositus as described above.

  1. In the tradition of providing a sustainable and productive Society, in addition to the position of Hereditary Member, two other representative membership positions shall also be recognized as Members representing a propositus; a Successor Member and a Life Member, with the proviso that no propositus may be represented by more than three (3) members, meaning one Hereditary Member, one Successor Member, and one Life Member, at any time.
  2. A propositus represented by only one Member is always considered to be represented by a Hereditary Member.
  3. The three (3) representative membership positions of Hereditary Member, Successor Member and Life Member shall be considered co-equal in regards to the common rights and privileges of membership including meeting attendance, voting, holding office, service to the General Society as a delegate or a member or alternate member of the Standing Committee, and other rights and privileges bestowed upon members of the Society.
  4. The title of Member is equally appropriate for all three representative membership positions and shall be used interchangeably with the exception of the five following distinctions;
    1. Only the Hereditary Member has the right to name a Successor Member to represent their common propositus.
    2. The Successor Member shall be the eldest son of a member in the Society or such other person, apparently or presumptively, entitled to succeed to the position of Hereditary Member upon its vacancy.
    3. The Life Member shall a descendant of the same propositus represented by Hereditary Member and shall continue to be a Member during his lifetime, but without right of succession.
    4. Applicants for Life membership may seek that position independent from the Hereditary Member.
    5. Life Members can be nominated to be Successor Members but can only occupy one membership position at any given time.
  5. The naming of a Successor is not an obligation of membership and is done at the discretion of the Hereditary Member.
  6. Successor Members and Life Members must meet all other membership criteria to represent their propositus. Membership applications establishing a successor membership must be accompanied with a letter of nomination to that position from the Member representing their propositus in the position as the Hereditary Member.
  7. No new member from the date of adoption of this revision of the bylaws is to be elected to represent a propositus until such a time as there are only two (2) or fewer representatives of that propositus.
    1. When two (2) Members represent the same propositus, the Member with the earliest date of admission to membership shall be considered to be the Hereditary Member and the member with the most recent date of admission shall be considered the Life Member.
    2. No Member may nominate a Successor Member during his first year of membership.
    3. As a matter of record, the Membership Committee shall have the responsibility of transferring the names of current Members transferring to the position of Hereditary Member, or nominated to be named as Successor Members, for approval at official meetings of the Society. The list shall be considered in whole, or in part, by the Society. Requests for the nomination of Successor Members must be made to the Membership Committee a minimum of 30 days prior to the official meeting at which such a request is to be considered.

Determination of Qualifications

The Society shall be the sole judge of the qualification of all applicants for membership and may expel any member for reasons which in its sole judgment render him unworthy to continue to hold membership.

Female Descent

When a male line is extinct, the Society may determine which female line shall be represented.

Collateral Descendants

Where there are no lineal descendants of an original member, the Society shall determine which collateral branch shall be represented. In general, a male with the surname of the original officer shall have preference. Death of a Member. Upon the death of a member, the Secretary shall immediately notify the person upon whom the membership devolves. If the candidate fails to apply for membership within one year, he shall again be formally notified by the Secretary. If he fails to apply within a second year thereafter, the Society may fill the vacancy with another.

Required Information

Every applicant for membership not succeeding a current member must show the rank and time of service of his ancestor who must in every case have been an officer of the Continental Army or Navy, and, if deranged, the resolution of Congress by which he was deranged. He must show his full line of descent and demonstrate that it falls within relationships called for above.

Applicants from Other State Societies

A member of any other State Society (or the French Society) may apply for membership in the Society, as well as any person whose ancestor was a Continental Officer, although from another State, of the groups described in Section 1, above. Provided, however, that:

  1. He submits his application for membership as provided in these Bylaws.
  2. The Secretary of the Society shall obtain from the Secretary of the pertinent other State Society its view with regard to the application, and the Secretary of our Society shall attempt to obtain a letter of release of the propositus before any transfer of membership occurs. If no such release is forthcoming from another Society in a reasonable time, the membership of the Society shall decide whether a transfer of membership should be permitted or what further steps will be needed to effect a transfer.
  3. Action on the application shall take the same course as with any other. If the applicant is elected he shall become a hereditary member of the Society with the same privileges as anyone else.