History

The history of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati is intimately interwoven with the history of the United States of America. Members were founders of the nation, both in the Revolutionary War and in the framing of the Constitution, and they and their posterity went on to play a significant role in the succeeding more than two centuries. United States presidents, justices, cabinet members, generals, admirals, ambassadors and a vast number of others have been New York Cincinnati. It is a rich history, going back to the beginning of the Society on the banks of the Hudson River in 1783.

Robert Livingston

Robert R. Livingston

Constitution of the New York State Society

At the first meeting of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati, a group of officers of the New York Regiments of Infantry gathered on June 9, 1783 at the Cantonment on the Hudson River, near New Windsor, New York, and adopted the following resolution: "Resolved, that as the officers of the New York line are on the point of separating, and will not have an opportunity of meeting for the election of officers of the State Society of the Cincinnati, Lieutenant-Colonel Benjamin Walker be directed to collect the ballots of the members present, and to request the officers of the artillery to send him their ballots as soon as possible, and that when the whole are collected, he do call in the assistance of any two officers who may be present to count the said ballots, and declare the election."

In pursuance of this resolution, on the 5th of July, 1783, Lt-Col. Benjamin Walker, Capt. Israel Smith, and Capt. Caleb Brewster, having met, counted the ballots for officers of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati, and declared and certified the Election to have fallen on: Major-General McDougall, President; His Excellency Governor Clinton, Brigadier-General, Vice President; Lieutenant-Colonel Walker, Secretary; Colonel Cortlandt, Treasurer; Major Fish, Assistant Treasurer.

 

Meetings During the First Century

On February 3, 1784, a committee consisting of Col. Philip Van Cortlandt; Lieutenant-Colonels Edward Antill, William S. Smith, Benjamin Walker; Majors Nicholas Fish, Richard Platt; Captain Edward Dunscomb; Lieutenant James Fairlie; and Dr. John Cochran, were appointed to prepare for the Society a set of by-laws, which were submitted and adopted on the 9th of February following.

On the January 21, 1786, at a meeting held at the New York Coffee House, Baron Steuben, Col. Samuel B. Webb, and Davis Brooks, Assistant Clothier-General, were appointed to draw up a plan of the proper ceremonials to be observed in the delivery of diplomas to the members of the Society. The plan was presented and adopted on the 21st of June following.

On the July 4, 1788, Commodore Nicholson was invited to attend the Society meeting as a member. In the minutes of that meeting it was expressed that naval officers of similar rank, were entitled to be members of the New York Society.

At a meeting on February 1, 1790, it was determined to celebrate in the future the anniversary of the birth of George Washington.

On the January 23, 1792, at a meeting of the Society at Corre's Hotel, it was resolved that the Standing Committee be directed to hold a meeting on the first Monday in every month, for transacting such business as may appear to them proper, and that it be the duty of the secretary to give notice thereof to the members.

At a meeting in January 1801, a committee consisting of Maj. James Fairlie and Lt. John Stagg, Jr., Secretary, were appointed to present a design for a suitable standard for the Society. At a later meeting the following report was approved as follows: That a banner be adopted instead of a standard, of the form hereunto annexed, to be made of silk, and to measure about forty-one inches in length, and twenty-eight inches in breadth. That the stars be silver embroidered on a blue field. Thirteen stripes, light blue and white alternately. Fringe, silver, about two inches in length. On the top of the staff - which is to be painted white, and to be about ten feet in length - to be represented an eagle - the order the Society - to be made of brass, or cooper, and gilt - from its beak a gilt chain, suspending the banner.

On July 13, 1804, a special meeting of the Society was called to announce the death of New York Society member and current President-General Alexander Hamilton. A committee of the Common Council of the City of New York requested the New York Society to organize the funeral procession and to appoint a committee for that purpose. The Society subsequently erected a tablet in honor of Hamilton in Trinity Church, New York City.

On July 4, 1806, the Society adopted a form of certificate of membership that was to be endorsed on the back of the original member diploma in cases where a hereditary member was admitted to represent the original member.

On April 8, 1829, Maj. William B. Crosby, Secretary, was appointed to acquire a new eagle for the Standard of the Society. The Society acquired an elegantly gilt upon copper eagle made by Nel West, a mechanic of New York City. A new and lighter chain to suspend the banner of the Society to the eagle was also authorized and acquired.

On July 4, 1857, the Society adopted its rules and regulations in regard to the qualifications and admission of members into the New York Society known as the Rule of 1854, which was recommended by the General Society on May 17, 1854 at its Anniversary Meeting Triennial in Baltimore. Our New York State Society of the Cincinnati membership diploma was also introduced and adopted at this meeting.

On December 14, 1883, at a meeting of the Society's Standing Committee, a history of the Society was commissioned to be written by John Schuyler, Secretary of the Society. The book was completed and published in1886, with a second printing issued by the New York Society in 1998.

 

Later History

From their inception, the various state societies of the Cincinnati have been autonomous: each has maintained its own rules of order, requirements for membership and, in most instances, designs of certificates of membership and well as insignia of the society, commonly known as Eagles. At a general meeting of the Society in May 1784, Maj. Pierre L'Enfant presented for approval an engraved copper plate for use in printing copies of the diploma of membership. The design was approved and early prints were produced in 1785. At a meeting of the New York Society on March 1, 1790, it was resolved that a sufficient number of certificates be printed for distribution to members. The present diploma exactly reproduces the design of these early certificates.

The Order, or insigne, of the Society was also designed by Major L'Enfant. The New York Eagle, as used now and pictured on this website under Books and Insignia, was adapted in 1919.

Members of the New York State Society now meet, as noted on the Meetings page, at least three times a year. The dispersion of our members outside of New York led to the 1986 decision to hold our Evacuation Day meeting at Anderson House in Washington, D.C.as close to its November 25th anniversary as possible.

The New York State Society has been able, through the changing years since 1783, to remain an active and vibrant organization. The rules of order have remained as established in 1783 and the requirements for membership, with the 1854 modification, are also essentially unchanged through the centuries.

 

Honorary Members

ELECTED
 ------------         
J
uly 4th, 1784                REV. STEPHEN GANO
            "                      
JOHN LANSING
            "                      
JAMES M'CLAUGHERY, Colonel
            "                       LEWIS MORRIS,
Major-General, U.S. Army
           
"                       THOMAS MOFFATT, Major
            "                      
JONAS PLATT, Justice
            "                       PHILIP PELL,
Jr., Judge Advocate, U.S. Army
            "                      
JOHN MORIN SCOTT, Brigadier-General
            "                       PIERRE VAN CORTLANDT, Lieutenant-Governor of New York
            "                       DANIEL WILLIAMS, Captain
            "                       ROBERT YATES, Chief Justice
July 4th, 1786                RICHARD MORRIS, Chief Justice
            "                       ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON, Chancellor
            "                       JAMES DUANE, Mayor of N.Y City
            "                       WILLIAM DUER, Secretary of the Treasury
            "                       JOHN SLOSS HOBART, Justice
July 4th, 1787                HENRY LIVINGSTON
            "                       WILLIAM FLOYD, Colonel
April 19th, 1791             STEPHEN VAN RENSSELAER (the Patroon)
            "                       JOHN HATHORNE, Colonel
July 4th, 1796                JACOB MORTON
            "                       WILLIAM CONSTABLE
July 4th, 1800                JOHN BARKER CHURCH
            "                       REV. WILLIAM LINN, D.D.
            "                       THOMAS TRUXTON, Captain, U.S. Navy
July 4th, 1803                GOUVERNEUR MORRIS
July 4th, 1805                REV. JOHN MITCHELL MASON, D.D.
July 4th, 1813                STEPHEN DECATUR, Commodore, U.S. Navy
            "                       JACOB JONES, Captain, U.S. Navy
            "                       WILLIAM BAINBRIDGE, Commodore, U.S. Navy
            "                       OLIVER HAZZARD PERRY, Commodore, U.S. Navy
            "                       JAMES LAWRENCE, Captain, U.S. Navy
July 4th, 1815                THOMAS MACDONOUGH, Commodore, U.S. Navy
            "                       ISAAC HULL, Captain, U.S. Navy
            "                       JOHNSTON BLAKELEY, Captain, U.S. Navy
            "                       LEWIS WARRINGTON, Captain, U.S. Navy
July 4th, 1818                JACOB BROWN, Major-General, U.S. Army
February 24th, 1819       ANDREW JACKSON, 7th President of the U.S.
July 4th, 1822                RUFUS KING
July 4th, 1825                BARON D'AURIER, Commander of the French Army
July 4th, 1827                EDWARD LIVINGSTON, Chief Justice
July 4th, 1847                STEPHEN W. KEARNEY, Major-General, U.S. Army
            "                       MATTHEW C. PERRY, Commodore, U.S. Navy
            "                       ZACHARY TAYLOR, 12th President of the U.S.
            "                       WILLIAM J. WORTH, Major-General, U.S. Army
July 4th, 1849                WILLIAM G. BELKNAP, Major-General, U.S. Army
            "                       JOHN E. WOOL, Major-General, U.S. Army
July 4th, 1859                JAMES BUCHANAN, 15th President of the U.S.
            "                       JOHN ALSOP KING, Governor of New York
July 4th, 1862                ROBERT ANDERSON, Brigadier-General, U.S. Army
July 4th, 1866                ULYSSES SIMPSON GRANT, 18th President of the U.S.
            "                       DAVID GLASGOW FARRAGUT, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy
July 4th, 1879                WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN, General, U.S. Army
July 4th, 1881                WINFIELD SCOTT HANCOCK, Major-General, U.S. Army
 prior to 1887                 GROVER CLEVELAND, 22nd and 24th President of the U.S.
 prior to 1893                 OLIVER OTIS HOWARD, Major-General, U.S. Army
            "                       HONORABLE JOSHUA MELANCTHON ADDEMAN, Late Captain U.S.
                                     Volunteers
            "                       GEORGE CHAMPLIN MASON
            "                       HONORABLE WILLIAM PAINE SHEFFIELD
   1896                         EDWARD NICOLL DICKERSON
    1897                         NELSON APPLETON MILES, Lieutenant-General, U.S. Army
    1899                         GEORGE DEWEY, Admiral of the U.S. Navy
    1905                         ADNA ROMANZA CHAFFEE, Lieutenant-General, U.S. Army
    1902                         THEODORE ROOSEVELT, 26th President of the U.S.
    1916                         HUGH LEONARD SCOTT, Major-General, U.S. Army
    1918                         ELIHU ROOT, U.S. Secretary of State
    1919                         HIS MAJESTY ALBERT I, King of the Belgians
    1921                         ROBERT GEORGES NIVELLE, Commander-in-Chief,French Armies
    1925                         EMILE DAESCHNER, French Ambassador to the U.S.
    1934                         FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, 32nd President of the U.S.
     "                              JOHN HUSTON FINLEY, American Academy of Arts and Letters
    1935                         CHARLES COOK PAULDING
     "                              FREDERIC RENE COUDERT, U.S. Special Asst Attorney General
     "                              GEORGE CREIGTON WEBB
    1937                         SIR RONALD CHARLES LINDSAY, Great Britain Ambassador to U.S.
     "                              NICHOLAS MURRAY BUTLER, President of Columbia University
     "                              COMTE CHARLES-HYPPOLITE-MARIE de FERRY de               
                                               FONTNOUVELLE, Consul General of France
    1938                         CORDELL HULL, U.S. Secretary of State
    1939                         FRANK PETER HOFFMAN
    1950                         DOUGLAS MacARTHUR, General of the Army
     "                              OMAR NELSON BRADLEY, General of the Army
     "                              ROBERT E. WOOD, Bridadier-General, U.S. Army
    1955                         JOHN EDGAR HOOVER, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
    1959                         AMORY HOUGHTON, U.S. Ambassador to France
    1964                         ARLEIGH ALBERT BURKE, Admiral, U.S. Navy
    1970                         JOHN HOWLAND GIBBS PELL, Commander, U.S. Naval Reserve
    1971                         GILBERT DARLINGTON, Lieutenant Commander, Chaplain Corps,
                                           U.S. New York Naval Militia
May 13th, 1971              BACHE BLEECKER, President Mount Gulian Society
    1973                         SPRUILLE BRADEN, U.S. Ambassador to Columbia, Cuba, Argentina
     "                              JOHN WHELCHEL FINGER, Governor General,
                                           NY Society of Colonial Wars        
 May 16th, 1975             THOMAS FLEMING, Author and Historian
    1981                         WILLARD LEE BRABY
     "                              FRANÇOIS de LABOULAYE, French Ambassador to the U.S.
    1982                         SHELBY CULLOM DAVIS, U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland
November 4th, 1984       WILLARD W. SCOTT, JR., Lieutenant- General; U.S. Army;
                                               Superintendent, U.S. Military Academy at West Point      1988                             EMMANUEL de MARGERIE, French Ambassador to the U.S.
 June 1st, 1989              DAVID RICHARD PALMER, Lieutenant-General, U.S. Army;    
                                               Superintendent, U.S. Military Academy at West Point
November 3rd, 1990       FRANCIS LEONARD KELLOGG, Ambassador and Special Assistant to
                                               Secretaries of State Rogers and Kissinger
June 1st, 1991               EDWARD NICHOLAS PENNINGTON GARDINER, Int'l Management
                                               Consultant
            "                       THEODORE S. WILKINSON, Lieutenant-Commander, U.S. Naval
                                               Reserve; President, American Foreign Affairs, Mexico and Brazil
June 6th, 1992               JACQUES ANDREANI, French Ambassador to the U.S.
    1994                         IMMO FRIEDRICH HELMUT STABREIT, Federal Republic of Germany
                                               Ambassador to the U.S.
November 18th, 2000     FRANÇOIS BUJON de l'ESTANG, French Ambassador to the U.S.
November 17th, 2007     PIERRE VIMONT   French Ambassador to the United States
June 3rd,2013               FRANÇOIS DELATTRE    French Ambassador to the United States

 

General Society of the Cincinnati Triennial Celebrations Hosted by the New York State Society

            1851, May 7th-8th Irving House, New York City
            1863 May 13th New York Historical Society "Conversation Room," New York City
            1875, May 12th Delmonico's Restaurant & Union Club House, New York City
            1899, May 10th-12th New York City and on May 12th steamboat passage up the
                                      Hudson River to the Verplanck Mansion meeting and reception
            1935, May 9th-10th Plaza Hotel, New York City
            1944, May 10th-11th Metropolitan Club, New York City
            1983, May 5th-7th Tarrytown Hilton and on May 7th meeting and reception at
                                      United States Military Academy, West Point

 

New York State Society Members Who Have Served as National Officers

Presidents General

                        1800-1805  MAJOR GENERAL ALEXANDER HAMILTON
                        1839-1844  MAJOR GENERAL MORGAN LEWIS
                        1844-1848  BREVET MAJOR WILLIAM POPHAM
                        1854-1896  HONORABLE HAMILTON FISH
                        1980-1983  JOHN SANDERSON du MONT


Vice Presidents General

                        1799-1800  MAJOR GENERAL ALEXANDER HAMILTON
                        1829-1839  MAJOR GENERAL MORGAN LEWIS
                        1848-1854  HONORABLE HAMILTON FISH
                        1929-1932  HONORABLE FRANCIS KEY PENDLETON


Secretaries General

                        1971-1977  STEPHEN CALDWELL MILLETT, JR.

 

Assistant Secretaries General 

                        1896-1905  HONORABLE NICHOLAS FISH
                        1968-1971  STEPHEN CALDWELL MILLETT, JR.
                        1977-1980  JOHN SANDERSON du MONT


Treasurers General

                        1783-1796  MAJOR GENERAL ALEXANDER McDOUGALL
                        1875-1881  ALEXANDER HAMILTON, JR.
                        1881-1896  JOHN SCHUYLER
                        1950-1956  WILLIAM WICKHAM HOFFMAN


Chaplains General

                          1881     REVEREND MANCUIS HOLMAS HUTTON

_________________________________________________________________________________

Resources/Bibliography for all the above information was from our Schuyler I book publication, the NY Society's 2005 Blue Roster Book, the General Society's Roster Book publications for the New York Society 1887 to date, and the General Scoiety's Roster Book "necrology" publications for the New York Society 1890 to date.   Prepared by Philip Robert Livingston, Jr. and Joseph vanBeuren Wittmann, Jr. of the Standing Committee of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati September 20th, 2006