Selections and research from the Thompson Family Genealogy
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Society of the Cincinnati
The Society of the Cincinnati is the oldest hereditary society and patriotic organization in the United States. The Society was founded in 1783 at the close of the Revolutionary War by the officers in the Continental Army who sought to provide a means of ongoing fellowship for the officers and to develop charitable funds to assist the families of original members. The Society also acted on behalf of the Army's officers in an effort to secure military pensions for surviving Revolutionary War veterans. Once these goals had been achieved, the Society evolved into a nonprofit educational organization devoted to the principles and ideals of its founders. The Society currently supports scholarship, publications, historic preservation efforts and other programs to promote increased knowledge and appreciation of the achievements of American independence.
The Society of the Cincinnati consists of thirteen individual State societies (one for each of the original thirteen states) as well as a French society. Membership is hereditary and is generally passed to the eldest son according to the rule of primogeniture. When such an individual is lacking, a collateral male descendant may be eligible for membership, if properly qualified and approved by the Society of the Cincinnati. Only one male descendant may represent an eligible officer at any time.
Membership in the Society of the Cincinnati is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious and sought-after accomplishments in the hereditary society community. As I learned more about the Society of the Cincinnati in 2005 or 2006, I discovered that one of our ancestors was eligible to be an original member of the Society. My 5th great-grandfather Robert Rankin (Anders line) served for almost the entire War ending with a rank of Lieutenant. He has only been represented twice in the Society, from 1944-45 and from 1945-71. In Sep 2006, my application for membership was approved and on 21 Oct 2006 I was officially elected to the Society. It is my honor and privilege to be the person to once again represent Robert Rankin in the Society of the Cincinnati.