DescriptionGeorge Washington Society of the Cincinnati Membership Certificate Signed "Go:Washington" as the society's president and countersigned by Henry Knox ("Knox") as secretary. One page, 19.5" x 14" (sight), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 5, 1784. This document announces "Lieutenant Benjamin Peirce is a Member of the Society of the Cincinnati." Although spelled differently, it is possible that this "Benjamin Peirce" is actually Benjamin Pierce, the father of future president Franklin Pierce, who was a lieutenant in the Continental Army and original member of the Society of the Cincinnati.
A patriotic organization with strict entrance rules, the Society of the Cincinnati only allowed entrance to officers from the Continental and French armies who served at least three years, or were officers at the time of the war's end. After that, membership was passed down to the eldest son. Washington was the society's first president and Knox, who likely originated the concept of the society, was its first secretary. The society took its name from the Roman farmer Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus, who secured complete control of Rome during a military emergency. Once that emergency was over, Cincinnatus returned control to the Roman Senate and went back to his farm. The motto of the society - "He gave up everything to serve the Republic" - reflects this tradition.
This certificate, with attractive patriotic vignettes, is toned, and the handwritten text, including Washington's signature, has faded. Framed to an overall size of 23.75" x 17".
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