Published: July 24, 2007
Many of the men who fought the Civil War were sons or grandsons of Revolutionary War veterans †soldiers who passed down to the next generations the ideals of liberty and freedom from tyranny that inspired American independence. Follow the tumultuous years of the Civil War through the eyes of these descendents in the exhibition “Inheriting the Revolution: Loyalty, Brotherhood and the Society of the Cincinnati during the Civil War,” on view through January 5 at Anderson House, the Society of the Cincinnati’s headquarters.
In 1783, as the Revolutionary War came to a close, 2,400 veteran officers of the Continental army and navy formed the Society of the Cincinnati, pledging, in part to “promote and cherish, between the respective States, that union and national honor so essentially necessary to &†the future dignity of the American empire.” Seventy years later their sons and grandsons, both Rebels and Yankees, fought to carry on the legacy of the Revolution †ideas of liberty and independence that rang true in different ways in both North and South.
Through nearly 40 portraits, letters, weapons and other artifacts, this exhibition highlights the impact of the ideology and people of the Society of the Cincinnati on the Civil War and the influence of earlier generations on this “Second American Revolution.”
“Inheriting the Revolution” features a variety of objects that tell the stories of these Civil War soldiers and their Revolutionary War heritage, including an edition of Henry Lee’s Revolutionary War memoirs published with an introduction by his son, Confederate General Robert E. Lee; a silver tankard buried by the Graham family to protect it from advancing British troops in 1776 and General William Sherman’s Union army in 1865; a jeweled sword presented in 1861 by the City of Philadelphia to Robert Anderson, the Union army commander of Fort Sumter and the son of Revolutionary War officer Richard Clough Anderson; and a portrait of Admiral William Branford Shubrick by Gilbert Stuart accompanied by Shubrick’s 1863 commission sighed by Abraham Lincoln.
The Society of the Cincinnati was found at the close of the Revolutionary War by officers of the Continental army and navy to preserve the ideals and fellowship for which they had fought. George Washington was instrumental in the society’s founding and served as its first president general. Now in its third century, the society has been perpetuated by descendants of these Revolutionary War soldiers as a nonprofit historical and educational organization that promotes public interest in the American Revolution through its library and museum collections, exhibitions, programs, research and publications and other activities.
Anderson House, a National Historic Landmark, is at 2118 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, in the historic Dupont Circle neighborhood. For information, 202-785-2040.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm