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The heraldic crest of the General Society of Colonial Wars.

The General Society of Colonial Wars is a hereditary society composed of men who trace their descents from forebears who, in military, naval, or civil positions of high trust and responsibility, by acts or counsel, assisted in the establishment, defense, and preservation of the mainland American colonies of Great Britain. Approximately 23,000 men have joined the organization from its beginnings in 1893. Typically, there are 4,000 to 4,500 active members at any time. The Society is tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The Society of Colonial Wars was founded in New York in 1892 to further the interest in, and study of, America’s Colonial history for the period between the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia on May 13, 1607 and the battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775.   In 1893, the General Society began to charter state societies to build an organization of national scope. Currently, there are state societies in 32 locals — Alabama, British Isles, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The Society has long sought to improve public awareness of the importance of colonial events and the individuals that shaped America. A number of monuments, plaques, and markers have been installed by the General and State Societies at sites nationally. The Societies also fund research and educational initiatives on the colonial period, including the Samuel Victor Constant Fellowships awarded annually for postgraduate study of the history of colonial American.

The Society continues its mission by collecting and preserving manuscripts, rolls, relics and records; erecting memorials; hosting commemorations; and supporting academic research to inspire respect for those whose made our freedom and unity possible.   In 1988, the General Society established a collection at the University of Baltimore to preserve and make available the historically significant records of the Society and to build a resource collection on the Colonial Period in America. An endowment fund has been established in the University of Baltimore Educational Foundation to support this collection — contributions are welcomed.

Local Events

The Massachusetts Society hosts a series of meetings from September to June for members. It has also proudly hosted several gala annual meetings of the General Society of Colonial Wars, most recently in 2001 and 2013. The local yearly events include:

  • Luncheons and Business Courts: On the third Thursday of each month from September through May (except December), the Society convenes a luncheon meeting at the Union Club of Boston followed by remarks on a topic of early American history or other subject of interest.
  • General Court and Annual Dinner: The Society’s annual meeting is held each December at The Country Club in Brookline in commemoration of the landing in Plymouth of the Pilgrim Fathers. Following cocktails and dinner, the program concludes with remarks from a distinguished guest speaker.
  • Burr Punch Bowl Party: The Society annually honors the memory of its long-serving Secretary David Eugene Burr (in office, 1944-64) with an autumn cocktail party featuring punch served from a silver bowl he bequeathed to the Society. Favored recent venues for the event have included the Somerset Club, the Club of Odd Volumes and the St. Botolph Club.
  • Muster and Field Day: The Society’s spring outing takes place each June, generally at a North Shore yachting establishment, with the Eastern Yacht Club, the Corinthian, and the Manchester Yacht Club being long-favored venues. The event’s military origins having been eclipsed by its social aspect, the carriage of firelocks by attendees is presently discouraged.
  • Stewards Committee Events: Events To further its work of grooming future Society leaders, the Stewards Committee from time to time organizes events instilling among younger members an enhanced appreciation and understanding of the Society’s mission, operations, and governance amidst an atmosphere of good cheer.
  • Joint Events with the Colonial Dames: The Society periodically joins forces with the Massachusetts chapter of the National Society of The Colonial Dames of America to co-host events promoting friendly and collaborative relations between Dames and Warriors. These gatherings include an annual joint luncheon or dinner at the Union Club and new member recruitment events at the Dames’ Prescott House headquarters.
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