Photographic reproduction of a print depicting Arthur St. Clair (1736-1818), who served as the territorial governor of the Northwest Territory from
Following the American Revolution, some Continental Army officers formed the Society of the Cincinnati. They named the organization after Roman dictator Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, who had left retirement as a farmer to lead the Romans to victory over their enemies. Cincinnatus then returned to his farm fields. The society's members chose "He gave up everything to serve the Republic" as their motto. They also established three goals for their organization.
- To preserve the right so dearly won;
- To promote continuing union between the states;
- To assist members in need, or their widows and orphans.
Membership in the Society of the Cincinnati was limited to American and French military officers who had served in the American Revolution. Upon a member's death, his eldest son became a member. By 1784, after one year of existence, the organization had 2,150 members. The members elected George Washington as its first President General. He served in this capacity from 1783 until his death in 1799.
One member of the Society of the Cincinnati was Northwest Territory Governor Arthur St. Clair. St. Clair named Cincinnati, Ohio, in honor of the organization.
The national headquarters of the Society of the Cincinnati is in Washington, DC.