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In August 1783, South Carolina military officers, fresh from their triumph in the American Revolution, met at a tavern at Broad and Church streets to establish a fraternal organization, the Society of the Cincinnati of the State of South Carolina. The patriotic group was organized by Gen. William Moultrie, whose 1776 victory at the battle of Sullivan’s Island had rallied the Continental troops. Among those who gathered were Francis Marion and brothers Thomas and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.
Similar meetings took place in the other 12 original states and in France. The name of the group refers to Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, a Roman dictator who gave up his power to return to his farm. George Washington was considered a modern-day Cincinnatus.
Today, the South Carolina Cincinnati has some 250 members—qualified male descendants of commissioned officers in the Continental Army or Navy. They renovated the carriage house behind the Heyward-Washington House, where Washington stayed in 1791, to use as their headquarters.