George Washington And Henry Knox Ds.
[George Washington]. Certificate of membership in the Society of the Cincinnati. Partly engraved DS on vellum, signed “H. Knox” and “G. Washington,” in their capacity as the Secretary and President of the Society, with several blanks in the printed text filled in the hand of a third individual. (Blanks filled in by hand include the name of the new member, Adam S Bayley; his rank; the date; year; “Philadelphia;' and “Pennsylvania”). Full text: “Be it known that Captain Adam S Bayley, is a Member of the Society of the Cincinnati, instituted by the Officers of the American Army, at the Period of the Dissolution, as well to commemorate the great Event which gave Independence to North America, as for the laudable Purpose of inculcating the Duty of the laying down in Peace Arms assumed for public Defence, and of uniting in Acts of brotherly Affection and Bonds of perpetual Friendship the members constituting the same. In testimony whereof the President of the said Society, have hereunto set my Hand at Philadelphia in the State of Pennsylvania this Fifth Day of May in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty Four and in the Eighth Year of the Independence of the United States. By order, [signed] ‘H Knox’ Secretary. [signed] ‘G. Washington’ President.” 13” x 19 ½” at border. Engraved in the lower portion of the certificate is Cincinnatus holding an American flag (with the stars replaced by an Eagle emblem). At Cincinnatus’s feet are a shield, a British flag, and a Betsy Ross flag (with the Betsy Ross flag’s 13 horizontal stripes left blank). An American eagle is shown shooting thunderbolts at a frightened British lion. In the lower right and lower center portion of the certificate are warships and the Society’s seal. At lower left: “Aug. I. Belle, del.” At lower right: “J.J. Le Veau, Sculp.” The Society of Cincinnati was established in 1783, with membership limited to officers of the Continental or French armies who served at least 3 years or were serving at the time of the War’s end. Enlisted men were excluded, and militia officers could be admitted only if they served as Continental Line for a substantial period of time. The Society was intended to educate the public about the principles that its members had fought for, to promote a stronger union between the states, and to serve a mutual aid function for orphans and widows of officers who died as a result of military duty. Critics saw it as aristocratic, and were turned off by its hereditary nature (membership was, and still is, passed down from father to firstborn son).
Toning, nicks, and tiny chips to edges. As is common, the wax seal is no longer present. Considerable fading to the sepia ink, particularly Washington and Knox’s signatures.