Organized in Paris, France, July 4, 1784
Rendered dormant, August 10, 1792
Reorganized in Paris, July 4, 1925
Readmitted as a constituent society by the General Society, December 31, 1925
On July 4, 1784, exactly eight years after America declared its independence, the French Society was established at a meeting at the Paris residence of Charles Hector, comte d'Estaing. The French Society was the fourteenth and last constituent society to organize. Its first officers were the comte d'Estaing, president, and Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, vice president. Pierre Charles L'Enfant and Marie-Joseph Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, both French volunteers in the Continental Army, also devoted significant energy to establish the French Society.
King Louis XVI became patron of the Society in France, granting permission for his subjects to wear the Eagle insignia and approving all claims of membership from French officers. More than two hundred officers who served in the Revolutionary War with the French army or navy, or with the Continental Army under commissions granted by Congress, ultimately became original members of the French Society.
Its association with the king and other royal orders cast suspicion on the French Society during the French Revolution, and the group was abolished by 1794. At least a dozen original French members of the Society were killed or imprisoned during the Reign of Terror, including its president, Admiral d'Estaing. Efforts to reorganize the French Society began in 1881, and it was readmitted to the General Society in 1925.