Member Log In

Meetings of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Jersey

The gentlemen appointed to attend the meeting of the General Society laid before this Society a circular letter addressed to the state societies together with the institution as altered and amended, which were ordered to be read and are as follows:


To the State Society of the Cincinnati,
in . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


We, the delegates of the Cincinnati, after the most mature and deliberate discussion of the principles and objects of our society, have thought proper to recommend that the enclosed institution of the society of the Cincinnati, as altered and amended at their first meeting, should be adopted by your state society.

In order that our conduct on this occasion, may stand approved in the eyes of the world ; that we may not incur the imputation of obstinacy, on the one hand, or levity on the other; and that you may be induced more cheerfully to comply with our recommendation, we beg leave to communicate the reasons on which we have acted.

Previous to our laying them before you, we hold it a duty to ourselves and to our fellow citizens to declare, and we call heaven to witness the veracity of our declaration, that, in our whole agency on this subject, we have been actuated by the purest principles; notwithstanding we are thus conscious for ourselves of the rectitude of our intentions in instituting or becoming members of this fraternity: and notwithstanding we are confident the highest evidence can be produced from your past, and will be given by your future behavior, that you could not have been influenced by any other motives than those of friendship, patriotism and benevolence; yet as our designs in some respects have been misapprehended ; as the ins’trument of our association was, of necessity, drawn up in a hasty manner, at an epoch as extraordinary as it will be memorable in the annals of mankind when the mind, agitated by variety of emotions, was not at liberty to attend minutely to every circumstance which respected our social connection, or to digest our ideas into so correct a form as could have been wished ; as the original institution appeared, in the opinion of many respectable characters, to have comprehended objects which are deemed incompatible with the genius and spirit of the confederation and as, in this case, it would eventually frustrate our purposes, and be productive of consequences which we had not foreseen — therefore, to remove every cause of inquietude; to annihilate every source of jealousy; to designate explicitly the ground on which we wish to stand; and to give one more proof, that the late officers of the American army have a claim to be reckoned among the most faithful citizens, we have agreed, that the following material alterations and amendments should take place; that the hereditary succession should be abolished; that all interference with political subjects should be done away; and that the funds should be placed under the immediate cognizance of the several legislatures, who should also be requested to grant charters for more effectually carrying our humane designs into execution.

In giving our reasons for the alteration in the first article, we must ask your indulgence while we recall your attention to the original occasion which induced us to form ourselves into a society of friends. Having lived in the strictest habits of amity, through the various stages of a war, unparalleled in many of its circumstances; having seen the objects, for which we contended, happily attained ; in the moment of triumph and separation, when we were about to act the last pleasing, melancholy scene in our military drama; pleasing because we were to leave our Country possessed of independence and peace ; melancholy, because we were to part, perhaps, never to meet again; while every breast was penetrated with feelings, which can be more easily conceived than described ; while every little act of tenderness recurred fresh to the recollection, — it was impossible not to wish our friendships should be continued; it was extremely natural to desire they might be perpetuated by our posterity, to the remotest ages. With these impressions and with such sentiments we candidly confess we signed the institution. We know our motives were irreproachable; but finding it apprehended by many of our countrymen, that this would be drawing an unjustifiable line of discrimination between our descendants and the rest of the community, and averse to the creation of unnecessary and unpleasing distinctions, we could not hesitate to relinquish everything but our personal friendships, of which we cannot be divested, and those acts of beneficence, which, it is our intention, should flow from them.

With views equally pure and disinterested, we proposed to use our collective influence in support of that government, and confirmation of that union, the establishment of which had engaged so considerable a part of our lives. But, learning from a variety of information, that this is deemed an officious and improper interference and that, if we are not charged with having sinister designs, yet we are accused of arrogating too much, and assuming the guardianship of the liberties of our country; thus circumstanced, we could not think of opposing ourselves to the concurring opinions of our fellow citizens, however founded, or of giving anxiety to those whose happiness it is our interest and duty to promote.

We come next to speak of the charitable part of our institution which we esteem, the basis of it. By placing your fund in the hands of the legislature of your State, and letting them see the application is to the best purposes, you demonstrate the integrity of your actions, as well as the rectitude of your principles. And having convinced them your intentions are only of a friendly and benevolent nature, we are induced to believe they will patronize a design which they cannot but approve; and that they will foster the good dispositions and encourage the beneficent acts of those, who are disposed to make use of the most effectual and most unexceptional mode of relieving the distressed. For this purpose, it is to be hoped that charters may be obtained in consequence of the applications which are directed to be made. It is also judged most proper that the admission of members should be submitted to the regulation of such charters; because, by thus acting in conformity to the sentiments of government, we not only give another instance of our reliance upon it, but of our disposition to remove every source of uneasiness respecting our Society.

We trust it has not escaped your attention, gentlemen that the only objects of which we are desirous to preserve the remembrance, are of such a nature, as cannot be displeasing to our countrymen, or unprofitable to posterity; we have retained, accordingly, those devices, which recognize the manner of returning to our citizenship; not as ostentatious marks of discrimination, but as pledges of our friendship, and emblems, whose appearance will never permit us to deviate from the path of virtue. And, we presume, in this place, it may not be inexpedient to inform you, that these are considered as the most endearing tokens of friendship, and held in the highest estimation by such of our allies as have become entitled to them, by having contributed their personal services to the establishment of our independence; that these gentlemen, who are among the first in rank and reputation, have been permitted, by their Sovereign, to hold this grateful memorial of our reciprocal affections ; and this fraternal intercourse is viewed, by that illustrious monarch, and other distinguished characters, as no small additional cement to that harmony and reciprocation of good offices, which so happily prevail between the two nations.

Having now relinquished whatever has been found objectionable in our original institution; having, by the deference thus paid to the prevailing sentiments of the community, neither, as we conceive, lessened the dignity nor diminished the consistency of character, which it is our ambition to support, in the eyes of the present, as well as future, generations; having thus removed every possible objection to our remaining connected as a Society, and cherishing our mutual friendships to the close of life; and having, as we flatter ourselves, retained in its utmost latitude, and placed upon a more certain and permanent foundation, that primary article of our association which respects the unfortunate. On these two great original pillars. Friendship and Charity, we rest our institution, and we appeal to your liberality, patriotism, and magnanimity — to your conduct on every other occasion, as well as to the purity of your intentions on the present, for the ratification of our proceedings. At the same time, we are happy in expressing a full confidence in the candor, justice and integrity of the public, that the institution, as now altered and amended, will be perfectly satisfactory, and that acts of legislative authority will soon be passed, to give efficacy to your benevolence.

Before we conclude this address, permit us to add, that the cultivation of that amity we profess, and the extension of this charity we flatter ourselves, will be objects of sufficient importance to prevent a relaxation in the prosecution of them. To diffuse comfort and support to any of our unfortunate companions, who have seen better days, and merited a milder fate — to wipe the tear from the eye of the widow, who must have been consigned, with her helpless infants, to indigence and wretchedness, but for this charitable institution — to succor the fatherless — to rescue the female orphan from destruction; to enable the son to emulate the virtues of his father, will be no unpleasing task; it will communicate happiness to others, while it increases our own ; it will cheer our solitary reflections, and sooth our latest moments. Let us then prosecute with ardor, what we have instituted in sincerity; let Heaven and our own consciences approve our conduct; let our actions be the best comment on our words; and let us leave a lesson to posterity, that the glory of soldiers cannot be completed, without acting well the part of citizens.

Signed by order,

Philadelphia, May 15th, 1784.


It having pleased the Supreme Governor of the universe to give success to the arms of our country, and to establish the United States free and independent; therefore, gratefully to commemorate this event; to inculcate to the latest ages the duty of laying down, in peace, arms assumed for public defence, by forming an institution which recognizes that most important principle; to continue the mutual friendsips which commenced under the pressure of common danger ; and to effectuate the act of beneficence, dictated by the spirit of brotherly kindness, towards those officers and their families who unfortunately may be under the necessity of receiving them, — the officers of the American army do hereby constitute themselves into a society of Friends; and possessing the highest veneration for the character of that illustrious Roman, Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus, denominate themselves The Society of the Cincinnati.

Sec. I. The persons who constitute this Society are all the commissioned and brevet officers of the army and navy of the United States, who have served three years, and who left the service with reputation ; all officers who were in actual service at the conclusion of the war ; all the principal staff officers of the Continental army, and the officers who have been deranged by the several resolutions of Congress, upon the different reforms of the army.

Sec. II. There are also admitted into this society, the late and present ministers of his most christian majesty to the United States; all the generals and colonels of regiments and legions of the land forces ; all the admirals and captains of the navy, ranking as colonels, who have co-operated with the armies of the United States, in their exertions for liberty; and such other persons as have been admitted by the respective state meetings.

Sec. III. The Society shall have a president, vice-president, secretary, and assistant secretary.

Sec. IV. There shall be a meeting of the society, at least once in three years, on the first Monday in May, at such place as the president shall appoint. The said meeting shall consist of the aforesaid officers (whose expenses ?hall be equally borne by the state funds) and a representation from each state. The business of this general meeting shall be, to regulate the distribution of surplus funds; to appoint officers for the ensuing term and to conform the by-laws of the state meetings to the general objects of the institution.

Section V. The Society shall be divided into state meetings, each meeting shall have a president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer respectively, to be chosen by a majority of votes annually.

Section VI. The state meetings shall be on the anniversary of independence. They shall concert such measures as may conduce to the benevolent purposes of the society; and the several state meetings shall, at suitable periods make application to their respective legislatures for grants of charters.

Sec. VII. Any member removing from one state to another, is to be considered, in all respects, as belonging to the meeting of the state in which he shall actually reside.

Section VIII. The state meeting shall judge of the qualifications of its members; admonish, and, if necessary, expel anyone who may conduct himself unworthy.

Sec. IX. The secretary of each state meeting shall register the names of the members resident in each state, and transmit a copy thereof to the secretary of the society.

Sec. X. In order to form funds for the relief of unfortunate members, their widows and orphans, each officer shall deliver to the treasurer of the state meeting one month’s pay.

Sec. XI. No donations shall be received, but from citizens of the United States.

Sec. XII. The funds of each state meeting shall be loaned to the state by permission of the legislature and the interest only, annually, to be applied for the purposes of the Society; and, if, in process of time, difficulties should occur in executing the intentions of the Society, the legislatures of the several states shall be requested to make such equitable dispositions, as may be most correspondent with the original design of the institution.

Section XIII. The subjects of his most christian majesty, members of this society, may hold meetings at their pleasure, and form regulations for their policy, conformably to the objects of the institute and to the spirit of their government.

The Society shall have an Order, which shall be, a bald eagle of gold bearing on its breast the emblems, hereafter described suspended by a deep blue ribbon edged with white descriptive of the Arms of America and France.

The principal figure


Three Senators presenting him with a sword and other military ensigns — on a field in the background, his wife standing at the door of their cottage; near it a plough and other implements of husbandry

Round the Whole,
Omnia Reliquit Servare Rempublicam.

On the Reverse,
Sun Rising — a city with open gates and vessels entering the port —

Fame crowning Cincinnatus with a wreath inscribed

Virtutis praemium.

Hands joined, supporting a
heart; with the motto
Esto Perpetua

Round the whole

Societas Cincinnatorum Instituta
A. D. 1783.

Sec. XV. A silver medal, representing the emblems, to be given to each member of the Society, together with a diploma on parchment, whereon shall be impressed the figures of the order and medal as above mentioned.

After hearing the alterations and amendments of the institution, the Society went into the consideration of the same. A motion was made and seconded for appointing a committee to examine into and report upon the circular letter addressed by the general society, at our next meeting.

Mr. Boudinot, Major Bloomfield, Major Howell, Mr. Frelinghuysen, and General Ogden were appointed a committee for the above purpose.

The members chosen to represent the State Society for the last year in the General Society were called upon to exhibit an account of their expenses during their attendance at the General Meeting.

Their several bills amounting to fifty-seven pounds and seven shillings and ten pence, were considered and agreed to. Ordered that the same be paid by the members present; who shall be credited therewith until a general plan of settling and paying contingent expenses be established.

A motion was made and seconded that each member pay $4 for every time he shall be absent from the stated meeting of the Society towards a contingent fund. Upon calling the question it was carried in the affirmative.

July 5 To cash recd. on account of expenses of the representation in General Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $144.60