Revolutionary War Round Table

April 15, 2003


The Honorable J. M. H. Willis, Jr., newly retired from the Court of Appeals of Virginia, discussed the founding of the Society of Cincinnati during the Fredericksburg Revolutionary War Round Table held at the Rappahannock Central Library on April 15. Judge Willis, a former Vice President General of the Society, is a lineal descendant of General William Woodford.

The General Society of the Cincinnati was founded in May, 1783 by Continental Army officers who fought in the American Revolution. This was before the Treaty of Peace was signed and before the British evacuated New York. The Honorable Major General Baron von Steuben, was the senior officer in attendance and presided at the organizational meetings.

Within 12 months, Constituent Societies were established in the 13 original states and in France under the auspices of the General Society of the Cincinnati. Of the 5,500 officers who were eligible to join, about 2,150 did so. George Washington was elected the first President General of the Society in December 1783 until his death in 1799. He was succeeded by Alexander Hamilton.

The badge of the Society is shown below, between Judge Willis on the right and Walter Jervis Sheffield, immediate past president of the Col. Fielding Lewis Chapter, Virginia Society, Sons of the American Revolution, and founder of the

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