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A Renaissance of Patriotism

( Originally Published 1927 )



WITHIN the past few years there has been what ex-President Harrison once happily termed a renaissance of patriotism." It started with the centennial anniversaries of 1776, which had the effect of carrying the memories of the people back to the period of the Nation's birth, and subsequently resulted in the formation of several societies which will be the means of fostering the patriotic spirit and love of country, and recall remembrances of 0ur Revolutionary struggle. The organizers of these societies found that there was a growing lack of what may be called national patriotism the patriotism that grows out of a lively recollection of the early making of the country through battle, toil, and hardship of the fathers. This lukewarm spirit was not charged to the flood of immigration, or to the lapse of time, but was principally due to neglect on the part of the descendants of Revolutionary heroes to perform their duty of keeping be-fore the public mind the memory of the services of their ancestors, the times in which they lived and the principles for which they contended.


One of the first of these societies to be started was the " Sons of the Revolution." This was organized February 22, 1876, reorganized December 4, 1883, and incorporated May 3, 1884. The aim of this society is to perpetuate the memory of the men who, in military, naval or civil service, by their acts or counsel, achieved American independence. The members pro-mote and assist in the proper celebration of the anniversaries of Washington's Birthday, the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill, the Fourth of July, the capitulation of Saratoga and Yorktown, and the formal evacuation of New York by the British army, December 3, 1783, as a relinquishment of territorial sovereignty, and other prominent events relating t0 or connected with the War of the Revolution.

The roll-book of the members is something more than a mere list of names. Before each name is the year, showing when the member was admitted into the society, and there is also given in a paragraph his genealogical history so far as it relates to his ancestors who were in any way connected with the Revolutionary struggle. There is a general, or national society, divided into state societies which regulate their own affairs. Under the rules 0f the New York State society, ten or more members can organize within any county outside of the county of New York, such a body being called a local chapter. The total member-ship is now about six thousand. When membership is asked on the ground of an ancestor having been a " sailor " or " marine," it must be shown that such service was other than shore duty and regularly per-formed in the Continental navy, or the navy of one of the original thirteen states, or on an armed vessel other than a merchant ship. When the ancestor has been an " official " his service must have been sufficiently important in character to have rendered him specially liable to arrest and imprisonment, if captured by the enemy, as well as liable to conviction of treason against the Government of Great Britain.

A few years ago the society stimulated interest in its work by offering two prizes to the cadets of the United States Naval Academy, at Annapolis, Md., a gold medal and a silver medal for the best original essays upon the subject, " The Navy of the Revolution." A singular and patriotic feature of these es-says was that they were not to contain less than 1,776 words. A gold medal is likewise annually awarded by the New York society to a student in the College of the City of New York, for the best essay on a patriotic subject, and gold, silver, and bronze medals to the scholars of the high schools throughout the State for like essays. Similar prizes are awarded by the societies in other states.

Congress has also been urged, by the Sons of the Revolution as a body, to pass a bill which has already been introduced in that body, making an appropriation of a sum of money to erect a monument to John Paul Jones. It has also memorialized Congress to enact such a law as will secure the publication of all the archives of the United States Government relating to the War of the Revolution, in a manner similar to the publication of the records of the War of the Rebellion.

The seal of the society is an interesting study, suggesting as it does, in small compass, the spirit of patriotism the society desires t0 cultivate. The seal consists of the figure of a minuteman, in Continental uniform standing on a ladder leading to a belfry. In his right hand he holds a musket and an 0live branch, while his left hand grasps a bell-rope. Above is seen the cracked Liberty bell, from which issues a ribbon bearing the motto of the society : Exegi monumentum aere perennius. Many members of this society did gallant service in the war with Spain.


The second important patriotic society is the " Sons of the American Revolution," a name very similar to that of the organization just mentioned. The first branch of this society was formed in California in 1876 by a body of descendants of officers, soldiers, and seamen of the Revolution gathered in San Francisco for the purpose of celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Similar societies were therefore organized in other states and, on April 30, 1889, these societies with two or three exceptions celebrated the centennial inauguration of Washington as first President of the United States. This meeting was held in Fraunce's Tavern, in New York City, in the identical long room (now marked with a commemorative tablet) in which Washington bade farewell to his officers, December 3, 1783. The national organization was formed on the occasion of this meeting.

This society exists in about thirty states, and numbers about five thousand members. A singular and interesting feature in connection with this and kindred organizations is that their existence has led to and greatly stimulated genealogical research, a species of investigation to which Americans, as a rule, have given but little attention. Persons who have become interested in these societies, it has been found, have rescued unrecorded facts from the aged members of their families who were destined soon to pass away, information which could have been obtained in no other way and which would have been lost forever in a few years.

The " Sons of the American Revolution " prides it-self on being a practical and not merely a sentimental and ornamental organization. It has been particularly active in saving throughout the country valuable historical landmarks, such as the headquarters of Jonathan Trumbull, in Connecticut, which has been obtained and is now used for a museum. It is marking historical spots and, directly and indirectly, securing the erection of memorials of the Revolutionary heroes, such as the Bennington Monument, near that famous battle-field, the statue of Gen. John Stark, in New Hampshire, and a monument to be erected in Baltimore to Maryland's heroes of the Revolution. It has obtained from Congress a law providing for the collection and indexing of the records of service of the Revolution. It has stimulated the general observance of national patriotic holidays, and was influential in setting apart June 14th as " Flag Day " in commemoration of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the national standard.


" The Society of Colonial Wars," originated in New York, and was instituted August 18, 1892, and incorporated October 18, 1892. In May, 1893, the New York society with the societies in the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia organized the general society, these states, having been previously chartered by the society in the State 0f New York. The objects of the organizations are similar to those of the previously named societies, from which they differ only in minor details. The present membership is approximately 3,000. On June 14th of this year (1898) this society joined with the Sons of the Revolution in appropriate ceremonies attending the unveiling of commemorative tablets at Fort Ticonderoga, intended to perpetuate the memories of the capture of the fort by Colonel Ethan Allen and his gallant band, the Colonial battles fought in the vicinity of Fort Ticonderoga, etc.


"The Military Order of Foreign Wars " is, as its name implies, a military organization with patriotic objects, having for its scope the period of American history since national independence. The principal feature 0f the order is the perpetuating of the names, as well as the services, of commissioned officers who served in either the War of the Revolution, the War with Tripoli, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, or the War with Spain. Veteran Companionship, is conferred upon such officers, and Hereditary Companion-ship upon their direct lineal descendants in the male line. The present membership is 1,400, which is rapidly growing. Other societies that merit more ex-tended notice but which can here only be named are the " Order of Cincinnati," the " Society of the War of 1812," the " Aztec Club," the Loyal Legion," the " Grand Army of the Republic," the Flag Association," " Colonial Order of the Acorn," " Order of Washington," the " Pilgrim Society," and some others.


It is quite natural that women, whose patriotic services during the late Civil War have often been the subject of grateful eulogy, should become interested in this new movement. There are several patriotic societies, composed exclusively of women, the objects of which are practically the same as the organizations which have just been mentioned. The society known as the "Daughters of the Revolution" was organized by Mrs. Flora Adams Darling, September 9, 1891. In October, 189o, was organized the more important society known as the " Daughters of the American Revolution," which now has a membership of about 3,500. This society has state chapters existing in most of the states. To become a member of this society a woman must be not less than eighteen years of age, and be the descendant of an ancestor who loyally rendered material aid as a soldier, sailor or civil officer to the cause of independence. The Daughters of the American Revolution have presented to the City of Paris an equestrian statue of Lafayette designed and executed by Daniel C. French. It was intended to be a return of the compliment to the American people conveyed by the French Government when it presented to the United States the statue of Washing-ton which is now at the National Capital. The unveiling took place with imposing ceremonies on July 3rd.


The " Colonial Dames of America," an organization incorporated in 1893, requires of a member that she shall be descended in her own right from some ancestor of worthy life who came to reside in the American colony prior to 1750. This ancestor, or some one of his descendants, shall be a lineal ascend-ant of the applicant, and shall have rendered efficient service to his country during the colonial period either in the founding of the commonwealth, or of an institution which has survived and developed into importance, or who shall have held an important position in the Colonial Government and by distinguished services shall have contributed to the founding of the Nation. Services rendered after 1783 are not recognized.


Still another woman's patriotic organization is known as the " United States Daughters, 1776-1812." This society was founded by Mrs. Flora Adams Dar-ling, and incorporated in 1892. Ladies to be eligible must be lineal descendants of an ancestor who assisted in the wars of 1776-1812, either as a military or naval officer, soldier, sailor, or in any way gave aid to the cause, tho' the society reserves to itself the privilege of rejecting any nomination that may not be acceptable to it.

Another patriotic woman's organization tho' not of recent date, which has for years rendered important service, is the " Mount Vernon Ladies' Association," of Washington, D. C. This association has under its care and direction the Washington estate at Mount Vernon, Va. In i895 a volume entitled " Ancestry " was published by Bailey, Banks and Biddle (Philadelphia) in connection with their Department of Heraldry that contained a complete list of the various patriotic societies, then forty-seven in number. Since the publication of this volume many new societies have sprung up.

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