CINCINNATI, Order of the (IN U S. HISTORY), a society founded by the officers of the revolutionary army just before their final separation. The name was taken from Cineinnatus, like whom the members had left the plow at the call of their country, and were now returning, to it when their services were no longer needed. Membership in the order was to be mainly confined to the officers, to their eldest male descendants, and, failing these, to collateral male descendants; and this feature stamped the order, in the popular belief, as an imitation of European orders of knighthood and an attempt to create an aristocracy. Ædanus Burke, a South Carolinian, published a pamphlet against the order; the governor of South Carolina denounced it in his address to the legislature; the legislatures of Massachusetts, Rhobe Isdland and Pennsylvania censured it by resolution; and those revolutionary leaders who had not been in the army considered the hereditary principle an unwise one. At the first general meeting, May, 1784, Washington persuaded the order to abolish the principle of hereditary membership, and with this modification it still survives, its membership being recruited by election.
—See 3 Hildreth's United States. 443; Mattox's History of The Cincinnati Society; 6 Pennsylvania Historical Society's Publications.