Organized in Annapolis, Maryland, November 21, 1783
On November 21, 1783, veteran officers of the Maryland Continental Line gathered at William Mann's tavern in Annapolis to found the Maryland Society, the twelfth of the constituent societies to be organized. The following day, the group reconvened to elect its first officers: Maj. Gen. William Smallwood, president; Brig. Gen. Mordecai Gist, vice president; Lt. Col. Nathaniel Ramsay, treasurer; and Lt. Col. John Eccleston, assistant treasurer.
The Maryland Society is one of only six constituent societies to have remained in continuous operation since its founding. The society met annually on the Fourth of July beginning in 1784. The triumphal return visit of the marquis de Lafayette in 1824 and 1825 reenergized the Maryland Society, which hosted the French hero at a gathering under George Washington's camp tent (lent by George Washington Parke Custis for the occasion) and at a dinner in Baltimore.
In April 1840, Col. Gassaway Watkins, the last living original member of the Maryland Society, died. The passing of the Revolutionary generation in Maryland inspired members of the Maryland Society to appeal for a state historical society to collect and preserve documents related to its history. The effort led to the founding of the Maryland Historical Society in 1844.