The Sons of the Revolution was organized in New York on December 18, 1875 primarily by leading members of the Society of the Cincinnati (founded by George Washington and Henry Knox) in order to broaden participation in preserving the American heritage. The Sons opened its membership to all sons of enlisted men as well as officers and all sons of other patriots who risked their lives during the Revolution.
The General Society of Sons of the Revolution was founded by the New York, Pennsylvania and District of Columbia Societies at a meeting on April 19, 1890 in Washington, DC following conferences held in 1888 to devise an organizational structure that would provide a satisfactory combination of local autonomy and national unity to the several State Societies.
Today there are more than 5,600 members of one or another of 28 State Societies residing throughout the United States and several foreign countries plus a few “At Large” members. State Society memberships range from more than 1,000 to less than 100. All State and At Large members automatically have membership in the General (national) Society. Headquarters of the General Society are at Fraunces Tavern in New York City, one of Manhattan’s most historic structures.
The Society seeks to preserve for succeeding generations the freedom and good government for which our forefathers fought; to develop awareness of and interest in the beginnings of our nation; to recall the sacrifices that accompanied its birth and to underscore the wisdom which devised the system of checks and balances that provides opportunity and freedom for all.
The General Society, through its officers, organizes member meetings at which general operating policy is established and State activity reports are presented. Held in the Fall in sequences of three annual meetings, the first two are termed Board of Managers meetings and are held over a period of three weekend days in one or another of the State Society headquarters or Chapter cities. Friday afternoon is devoted to committee meetings. An informal arrival buffet is held Friday evening, usually in some historic building. Saturday is a business meeting day for the men and a day of tours for the ladies. A formal dinner is the attraction on Saturday evenings. Sunday concludes the meetings with participation in a local church service followed by a traditional farewell sherry and, on occasion, light luncheon.
During the Triennial Meeting, at the end of the three-year cycle, a greater amount of time is devoted to Society business and ladies’ touring activities over an additional day. At the formal dinner on Saturday evening the attendees usually hear a talk by a prominent citizen who is a winner of the Society’s Modern Patriot Award. A new slate of officers, elected at the last business session, is installed and other General Society awards for excellence in operations are presented to leading State Societies. These dinners, which include dancing, usually are held in the headquarters hotel or a local country club.
The Society provides all members twice a year with two publications in alternate quarters. Flintlock & Powderhorn is a 32-page booklet containing historical articles and speeches given to one or another of the State Society meetings throughout the year by distinguished guests. DRUMBEAT is the Society’s newsletter containing information on State and General Society activities. The General Society also centralizes membership information and historical records.
It being evident, from the steady decline of a proper celebration of the National Holidays of the United States of America, that popular concern in the events and men of the War of the Revolution is gradually declining, and that such lack of interest is attributable, not so much to the lapse of time and the rapid increase of immigration from foreign countries, as to the neglect, on the part of descendants of Revolutionary heroes, to perform their duty in keeping before the public mind the memory of the services of their ancestors and of the times in which they lived; therefore, the Society of Sons of the Revolution has been instituted to perpetuate the memory of the men who, in the military, naval and civil service of the colonies and of the Continental Congress, by their acts or counsel, achieved the Independence of the country, and to the proper celebration of the anniversaries of the birthday of Washington, and of prominent events connected with the War of the Revolution; to collect and secure for preservation the rolls, records and other documents relating to that period; to inspire the members of the Society with the patriotic spirit of their forefathers; and to promote the feeling of friendship among them.