George Washington Papers

Circular Letter to the State Societies of the Cincinnati, 1 January 1784

Circular Letter to the State Societies of the Cincinnati

Mount Vernon Jany 1st 1784


After taking all the various circumstances into mature consideration, I have thought proper to appoint the City of Philadelphia to be the place for the general meeting of the Society of Cincinnati on the first monday1 in May next, agreeably to the original Institution—The object of this Letter is to communicate timely information thereof, that proper notice may be given to the Delegates of your State Society, whose punctual attendance will be expected at the time & place before mentioned.

Having made this communication, I have only to suggest that it may perhaps be preferable to give the necessary notice to your Delegates by Letter, rather than by a public Notification; I would however wish that whatever mode is adopted, measures may be taken to prevent a possibility of failure in the communication. I am &ca

Go: W——n

RS. Be pleased to acknowledge the receipt of this Letter.

DfS, DSoC. GW wrote to Henry Knox on 20 Feb. 1784 that it was “amongst” his “first Acts after I got home, to write to the President of each State Society, appointing Philadelphia (& the first Monday in May) for the general meeting of the Cincinnati.” The draft of the circular letter printed here, which is in David Humphreys’ hand, was originally dated December 1783 and then changed to 1 Jan. 1784. It lists the thirteen states, with checks after all but Delaware and the four southern states. The letters that GW sent by Lt. Col. Benjamin Walker to the states north of Virginia are dated 28 Dec. 1783, and those he sent to the three states to the south are dated 1 Jan. 1784. Among the copies of the circular letter found are those to the presidents of the state societies: Rhode Island (Nathanael Greene), RHi; Connecticut (Jedediah Huntington), in Hume, Society of the Cincinnati, description begins Edgar Erskine Hume, ed. General Washington’s Correspondence concerning the Society of the Cincinnati. Baltimore, 1941. description ends 42; New York (Alexander McDougall), NHi; New Jersey (Elias Dayton), PPRF; Pennsylvania (Arthur St. Clair), OHi; North Carolina (Jethro Sumner), DLC:GW, NcRSC; and South Carolina (William Moultrie), DSoC. In addition, John Sullivan of New Hampshire acknowledged the receipt of the circular letter on 12 Mar. 1784; Benjamin Lincoln of Massachusetts, on 2 Mar.; James Tilton of Delaware, on 20 Jan.; William Smallwood of Maryland, on 10 Feb.; and Lachlan Mclntosh of Georgia, on 20 April (second letter). For further information on the Society of the Cincinnati, formed in 1783 by officers in the Continental army, see General Meeting of the Society of the Cincinnati, 4–18 May 1784.

1“Monday” was inserted above the word “day,” and “day” was inadvertently not crossed out.

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