The Pennsylvania Society and the City Tavern

The Pennsylvania Society has a long and storied history with the City Tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The State Society of the Cincinnati of Pennsylvania was founded at the City Tavern on 4 Oct 1783. The first officers elected were:

President: Major General St Clair

Vice-President: Brigadier General Wayne

Treasurer: Brigadier General Irvine

Vice-Treasurer: Col Johnston

Secretary: Lt. Col Harmar

The Pennsylvania State Society was the ninth of the 14 constituent societies formed by the original 13 states and France after the General Society was founded at Fishkill, NY, 10 May 1783.

A second meeting was held at the City Tavern on 10 Oct, leading to a third on 13 Oct at which the 85 men present signed the Parchment Roll, Pennsylvania’s draft of the institution earlier adopted at Fishkill. Signatures on the Roll eventually totaled 268. These are what we consider Original Members. To this are added the names of those officers who died in service, and therefore could not make the choice themselves, officers who joined the society later, and lines of descent that are now eligible through the Rule of 1854. Our total eligible officers now number over 600.
On 4 May 1784, all fourteen societies met at the Tavern for the first general meeting. At that time the French delegate gave General Washington the Cincinnati Eagle insignia, designed by Pierre L’Enfant, that the Society President General wears to this day at all official functions.

The City Tavern was built by subscription in 1773. One of the architects involved was Thomas Proctor, later to become Colonel Procter of the Pennsylvania Artillery, an Original Member of the Pennsylvania Society. The Tavern was one of the most elegant buildings in the city and quickly became a social and economic center. In August of 1774 the delegates to the First Continental Congress used the Tavern extensively, as did those of the Second Continental Congress. Such patronage continued, with the exception of the Occupation of Philadelphia from Nov 1777 to Jun 1778 by the British, throughout the Revolutionary period. With this reputation, there is no wonder that the Pennsylvania Society chose the Tavern for its inception.

The original Tavern was partially destroyed in a fire in 1834 and demolished in 1854. When the National Park Service rebuilt the Tavern on the original site in 1975 in preparation of the nation’s bicentennial, the Pennsylvania Society contributed to the cost. We helped to refurbish one of the two private dining rooms on the second floor, now known as the Cincinnati Room.

For more information on Colonel Proctor and the City Tavern, click here.