The General Sons of the Revolution was founded in 1876 by John Austin Stevens, a member of New York City’s Victorian society. He was a patriotic historian who descended from Ebenezer Stevens, a Revolutionary Officer in the Continental line who did not meet all of the strict requirements for membership in the Society of Cincinnati at that time. He along with the other ‘founders’, some of whom were members of Cincinnati , wished to broaden participation in preserving American Heritage of the Revolutionary War on the eve of the centennial of the Declaration of Independence. The founder’s mission was to form a new society of gentlemen, the first of its kind in the Late 19th century, which would promote knowledge and appreciation of the achievement of American independence, and to foster fellowship amongst its members.
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational organization devoted to the principles and ideals of its founders, the modern Society maintains its headquarters, in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia with 28 societies in the United States and Europe.
The General Society Sons of the Revolution was formed by the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and New York Societies at a meeting on April 19, 1890, in Washington, DC, following conferences held in 1888 to devise an organizational structure that would provide a satisfactory continuation of local autonomy and national unity to the several State Societies. The Sons opened its membership to all sons of enlisted men, as well as officers and all descendants of other qualifying patriots, who risked their lives during the Revolution.
It being evident, from the steady decline of a proper celebration of the National Holidays of the United States of America, that popular concern in the events and men of the War of the Revolution is gradually declining, and that such lack of interest is attributable, not so much to the lapse of time and the rapid increase of immigration from foreign countries, as to the neglect, on the part of descendants of Revolutionary heroes, to perform their duty in keeping before the public mind the memory of the services of their ancestors and of the times in which they lived; therefore, the Society of Sons of the Revolution has been instituted to perpetuate the memory of the men who, in the military, naval and civil service of the colonies and of the Continental Congress, by their acts or counsel, achieved the Independence of the country, and to the proper celebration of the anniversaries of the birthday of Washington, and of prominent events connected with the War of the Revolution; to collect and secure for preservation the rolls, records and other documents relating to that period; to inspire the members of the Society with the patriotic spirit of their forefathers; and to promote the feeling of friendship among them.
The purpose of the General Society, Sons of the Revolution (“GSSR”), is to engage first and foremost to meet the declared mission of Article I of the Constitution of the General Society; to engage with State Societies in activities which further the education of the general public (especially America’s youth) about the American Revolution and the United States Constitution and about the patriots who supported those worthy causes during the period of 1775-1789. Such activities can include, but are not limited to:
Publications (by both print and electronic means) of articles on such important topics related to the Revolution and the Constitution for Society members and the public-at-large;
Participation in public patriotic ceremonies and events (e.g., Washington’s birthday in February, Patriot’s day in April, Flag Day in June, Independence Day in July, Saratoga-Yorktown day in September, etc.) to remember and commemorate the principle and significant persons and events of the American Revolution and of the development of the United States’ Constitution and of its ratification;
Development of affiliated relationships and collaborations with patriotic groups and organizations to produce new scholarly works, programs and curricula regarding Revolutionary era foundational principles as well as the personal patriotic virtues, faith declarations and accomplishments of the leaders of the period; and
Development and preservation of monuments, memorials, plaques and scholarly treatises to commemorate and educate our members and the public at large regarding the important places, persons and events of the Revolution era.