Adopted at the founding meeting in New York on May 13, 1783, the Institution of the Society of the Cincinnati remains the principle guiding document of the organization to the present day.

To quote:

The following principles shall be immutable and form the basis of the Society of the Cincinnati.

An incessant attention to preserve inviolate those exalted rights and liberties of human nature for which they have fought and bled, and without which the high rank of a rational being is a curse instead of a blessing.

An unalterable determination to promote and cherish, between the respective States, that union and national honor so essentially necessary to their happiness, and the future dignity of the American Empire.

To render permanent the cordial affection subsisting among the officers – This spirit will dictate brotherly kindness in all things, and particularly extend to the most substantial acts of beneficence, according to the ability of the Society, towards those Officers and their Families who unfortunately may be under the necessity of receiving it.

The Institution lays out the tenets and organizational structure of the Society, the rules of eligibility to membership, the establishment of constituent branches, and details of the Society’s insignia. To join the Society, the original members were required to sign their names to the Institution, thus pledging their allegiance to the immutable principles upon which the Society was founded.

The full text of the Institution can be found here. A copy of the Institution of the Pennsylvania Society can be viewed here.