Beginning in 1784, delegates of the Society's constituent branches have gathered at least every three years—except for a few gaps in the nineteenth century—in what are known as Triennial Meetings. The Society's Institution, adopted on May 13, 1783, directs that delegates to the General Society will meet "on the first Monday in May, annually, so long as they shall be necessary, and afterwards, at least once in every three years." The first general meeting convened in Philadelphia on May 4, 1784, and lasted two full weeks.
With one exception, Triennial Meetings were held in Philadelphia until 1851, when President General Henry A. S. Dearborn, in an effort to broaden opportunities for member participation, changed the venue to New York City. Since then, the site and responsibilities for planning the Triennials have rotated among the constituent societies. The Société des Cincinnati de France first hosted the delegates of the American and French branches in Paris in 1959 and again in 1974 and 2001.
A major change in the nature of the Triennial Meetings occurred in 1950, when the Society adopted a resolution limiting the offices of president general and vice president general to no more than two consecutive terms of three years each. Since that time, Triennial Meetings have become more ceremonial and have marked the regular transitions in the leadership—opportunities to express appreciation to outgoing officers and to inaugurate new presidents general and launch new administrations. Triennial Meetings remain an essential aspect of the governance of the modern Society, while preserving its principles and traditions in an unbroken link to its founders.