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Past Exhibitions

Revolutionary Reflections: French Memories of the War for America

April 5 – October 27, 2019

The American Revolution marked the beginning of an age of democratic revolutions that swept over France and challenged the old order throughout the Atlantic world. French officers who served in the American War of Independence, whether as idealistic volunteers or resolute soldiers of their king, were caught up in the turmoil of their generation. Their journals, memoirs, and portraits, brought together in this exhibition, reflect their impressions of Revolutionary America and their memories of service to king and country and to the cause of American independence. View highlights from the exhibition.

A Revolution in Arms: Weapons in the War for Independence

October 11, 2018 – March 24, 2019

To arm its soldiers against the well-supplied British regulars, the Continental Army relied on hunting weapons and other arms its soldiers brought from home, British weapons seized from royal storehouses and provincial magazines or captured from the enemy in the field, and arms supplied by France and Spain—along with weapons made by a growing number of American manufacturers. A Revolution in Arms examined the muskets, rifles, pistols, swords, and other weapons used by American troops during the Revolutionary War and their importance to the achievement of independence. View highlights from the exhibition.

Alexander Hamilton's American Revolution

March 15 – September 16, 2018

The American Revolution was a defining event in Alexander Hamilton's life. This exhibition explored how his participation in the struggle for American independence—as a political writer, Continental Army officer, and the principal aide-de-camp to General George Washington—shaped his vision for the new nation and its institutions. View highlights from the exhibition.

Books in the Field: Studying the Art of War in Revolutionary America

September 27, 2017 – March 4, 2018

At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, most American officers lacked the technical knowledge to lead an army in the field against British regulars. To make up for this deficiency, George Washington and other commanders urged officers to study the growing literature on the art of war. Books in the Field documented how reading and study helped the Continental Army secure the independence of the United States. View highlights from the exhibition.

The Great Crusade: World War I and the Legacy of the American Revolution

April 7 – September 17, 2017

The United States entered World War I to defend freedom and democracy against tyranny and oppression, inspired by the ideals of the American Revolution and the memory of the Revolutionary War. The war transformed the nation's political and cultural relationship with Europe and shaped a new determination to spread the principles of the American Revolution around the world. This exhibition—which opened on the 100th anniversary of the United States' entrance into World War I—featured materials illustrating the connection between the Revolution and the Great War, including posters, sheet music, and recordings, as well as other printed works, art, and artifacts. View highlights from the exhibition.

Boom! Artillery in the American Revolution

October 1, 2016 – March 26, 2017

To win their independence, Americans had to create an effective artillery service able to challenge the British on the battlefield. This exhibition traced the development of the Continental Artillery during the Revolutionary War, a process shaped by broader technological and organizational changes in artillery that transformed it into a dominant force on European and American war battlefields. View highlights from the exhibition.

The Adventurous Life of Isabel Anderson

March 24 – September 18, 2016

Isabel Anderson was an heiress, author, patriot, world traveler, hostess, philanthropist, collector, and wife. She was also a significant benefactor of the Society of the Cincinnati, to which she donated her Washington home in 1938. This exhibition highlighted her adventurous life — spanning the centennial of the American Revolution to World War II — through portraits, artifacts, and documents from the era. View highlights from the exhibition.

Faces of Revolution: Portraits from the War for Independence

September 17, 2015 – March 13, 2016

For many of the men who fought for American independence, the Revolutionary War was the defining experience of their lives. Portraits were both an immediate and lasting way for soldiers, their families, and the American public to memorialize the participants in the American cause. Faces of Revolution explored the vital roles these portraits played in American culture in the late eighteenth century through more than thirty paintings and prints of Revolutionary War veterans. View highlights from the exhibition.

Lafayette & L'Hermione: Symbols of French-American Friendship

April 3 – September 6, 2015

In March 1780, the marquis de Lafayette boarded a frigate, the Hermione, to sail to America with the news that King Louis XVI would send an army to support the patriots' fight against the British. This exhibition explored Lafayette's contributions to American independence, the history of the Hermione and French naval architecture of the eighteenth century, and the construction of the modern replica of the frigate that visited the East Coast in the summer of 2015. View highlights from the exhibition.

Homeland Defense: Protecting Britain during the American War

October 3, 2014 – March 21, 2015

In February 1778, France completed an alliance with the Americans. For the first time in a generation, Britain faced the threat of invasion. This exhibition examined preparations to defend Britain during the Revolutionary War and what those preparations reveal about British society, culture, and politics at a time when the government was prosecuting an increasingly divisive and unpopular war. View highlights from the exhibition.

"The Reward of Patriotism"— Commemorating America's Heroes of the War of 1812

March 14 – September 20, 2014

This exhibition explored how Americans identified and commemorated the new generation of military heroes that emerged from the War of 1812 and how membership in the Society of the Cincinnati contributed to the reputations of these war heroes. View highlights from the exhibition.

Remembering the Revolutionaries: Heroes of the Revolutionary War in American Culture, 1783-1863

August 2, 2013 — March 1, 2014

Leaders of the Revolutionary War were the national heroes and cultural icons of the early republic. This exhibition illustrated how ordinary Americans remembered the heroes of the Revolutionary War and how those memories evolved during the eighty years between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. View highlights from the exhibition.

Pierre L'Enfant's Vision for the American Republic

January 18 — July 20, 2013

The French artist and engineer Pierre L'Enfant made vital contributions to the early formation of the American nation and American identity. This exhibition explored the imagery he created that helped define the new American republic, including the Society of the Cincinnati insignia and his plan for Washington, D.C. View highlights from the exhibition

The American Revolution at Sea

April – December 2012

This exhibition, drawn entirely from the Society's collections, traced the maritime dimensions of the conflict from the end of the Seven Years' War through the last naval battles of the Revolutionary War. Focusing on the French, British, and fledgling American navies, the exhibition examined how naval warfare was waged in the eighteenth century and explored several of the most significant conflicts at sea—battles fought on a scale dwarfing the largest land battles of the war. View highlights from the exhibition

France in the American Revolution

October 2011 – April 2012

Two hundred and thirty years after the joint French-American victory at Yorktown, this exhibition celebrated the French contribution to the fight for American independence. France was America's main ally during the Revolutionary War and sustained America's war effort with arms and equipment, soldiers, and its navy.

"Picturesque Effects"—Frances Benjamin Johnston's Photographs of Anderson House

May – October 2011

Selections from the Society's collection of photographs taken in 1910 by Frances Benjamin Johnston, one of the first American women to achieve distinction as a photographer, were the focus of this exhibition. These photographs had never before been exhibited together.

New Hampshire in the American Revolution

November 2010 – May 2011

Focusing on the fiercely independent colony of New Hampshire, this exhibition chronicled its participation in the Revolution, from the raids on Fort William and Mary in 1774 to the founding of New Hampshire's branch of the Society nine years later.

Once in Every Three Years: The Triennial Meetings of the Society of the Cincinnati, 1784-2010

March – October 2010

This exhibition presented the sweep of two centuries of Society history as marked by its Triennial Meetings, from the first one held in Philadelphia in 1784 to the most recent meeting held in New Haven, Connecticut, in 2010.

The Eagle Takes Flight—Symbol of a New Nation

January 2010

The loan exhibition of the 55th Washington Antiques Show, organized by the Society and installed at the Katzen Arts Center at American University, explored the artistic use of the bald eagle as the symbol of the nation and the Society of the Cincinnati in early America.

Virginia in the American Revolution

September 2009 – March 2010

This exhibition examined the participation in the Revolutionary War of Virginia—the oldest, largest, and most populous of Britain's American colonies that was rich in political and military talent.

George Washington & His Generals

February 2009 – January 2010

Through a look at nearly a quarter of the eighty-one generals who served under George Washington in the Continental Army, this exhibition explored the military leadership required to win the Revolutionary War. The exhibition was co-organized by the Society and the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association and displayed at Mount Vernon.

Maryland in the American Revolution

February – September 2009

The role of Maryland's citizens and soldiers in the Revolutionary War, which did not see a single battle fought on Maryland soil, was nonetheless significant and was commemorated in this exhibition.

The Enlightened Soldier: James Wolfe's Reading List on the Art of War

July 2008 – February 2009

Centered around a letter written by British officer James Wolfe in July 1756, this exhibition assembled contemporary editions of the twenty-six books Wolfe recommended to prepare for a career in the army. The exhibition celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the Society's Robert Charles Lawrence Fergusson Collection on the art of war in the eighteenth century.

The Secret History of The Society of the Cincinnati

January – July 2008

On the 225th anniversary of the Society's founding, this exhibition celebrated the Society's important legacy in post-Revolutionary War America—that citizen-soldiers who had left their homes to fight for their country were willing to abandon their swords and support the subordination of military power to civilian rule.

Inheriting the Revolution: Loyalty, Brotherhood and the Society of the Cincinnati during the Civil War

May 2007 – January 2008

Drawn exclusively from the Society's collections, this exhibition explored the impact of the people and ideology of the Society of the Cincinnati on the Civil War and the influence of earlier generations on this "Second American Revolution."

North Carolina in the American Revolution

October 2006 – April 2007

This exhibition highlighted North Carolina's contributions to the Revolution, which included one of the earliest actions by American women in support of the Revolution, the Edenton Tea Party; the first official recommendation for independence from Great Britain by an American colony, the Halifax Resolves; and one of the earliest battles of the war, the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge.

Roads to Yorktown

April – September 2006

Marking the 225th anniversary of the American and French victory at Yorktown, this exhibition analyzed the remarkable convergence of land and naval forces that led to the climactic struggle of the Revolutionary War.

Pennsylvania in the American Revolution

October 2005 – April 2006

Despite some of the most iconic events of the Revolution occurring in Pennsylvania, this exhibition examined the colony's more reluctant journey to fight for American independence.

Serving in Style: A Century of Art and Politics at Anderson House

April – October 2005

For the one hundredth anniversary of the completion of Anderson House, this exhibition celebrated Larz and Isabel Anderson's Washington home, which they used as a showplace for their art collection, a backdrop for society galas, and a home from which they explored what they considered "the most beautiful of American cities."

South Carolina in the American Revolution

October 2004 – April 2005

More engagements were fought in South Carolina during the Revolutionary War than in any other colony. This exhibition explored this colony's position at the center of activity in the South during the war.

Beyond the Battlefield: The Daily Life of the Revolutionary War Soldier

May – October 2004

This exhibition focused on the struggles of daily life for the tens of thousands of American soldiers of the Revolutionary War, including fatiguing marches, the danger of battle, food shortages, monotonous lulls in camp, and years away from home.

Georgia in the American Revolution

October 2003 – May 2004

The Revolution took on the character of a brutal civil war between patriots and loyalists in Georgia, which was the youngest and most remote of Britain's American colonies. This exhibition chronicled the evolution of Georgia from a loyal and dependent British colony to a full participant in the creation of the United States of America.

Manuscript Treasures from the Society of the Cincinnati Collections

May – October 2003

Organized to coincide with the annual meeting of the Manuscript Society, this exhibition featured a wide array of historical manuscripts from the Society's collection, including richly illustrated treatises on the art of war, letters of George Washington, and Pierre L'Enfant's original artwork for the Society's emblems of membership.

Delaware in the American Revolution

October 2002 – May 2003

This exhibition commemorated the citizen-soldiers of Delaware and their widely admired service in the Revolutionary War.

Worth a Thousand Words: Satirical Prints, Caricatures, and Political Incorrectness in the Age of Reason

May – September 2002

Through a selection of eighteenth-century satirical prints and engraved caricatures, this exhibition examined the international reactions and political tensions sparked by the American Revolution.

Connecticut in the American Revolution

October 2001 – May 2002

Led by men like Jonathan Trumbull, Jeremiah Wadsworth, and Israel Putnam, Connecticut was an early and enthusiastic participant in the American Revolution, as shown in this exhibition.

Rhode Island in the American Revolution

October 2000 – April 2001

This exhibition explored the Revolution in the smallest American colony, including the three-year British occupation, the arrival of the French fleet at Newport in 1780, and the founding of Rhode Island's branch of the Society of the Cincinnati in 1783.

Miniature Warriors of the American Revolution

May – September 2000

Using miniature soldier models from the Society's museum collections, this exhibition highlighted selected American, French, and British units during the Revolutionary War through a look at their uniforms and equipment.

New Jersey in the American Revolution

October 1999 – April 2000

This exhibition chronicled the Revolutionary War in New Jersey, where the Continental Army encamped for three hard winters and more than ninety military engagements were fought.

Objects of Admiration: Images and Objects Related to George Washington, First President General of the Society of the Cincinnati (1783-1799)

May – September 1999

Honoring George Washington for the two hundredth anniversary of his death, this exhibition displayed contemporary and commemorative artifacts and documents related to the Society's first president general.

New York in the American Revolution

October 1998 – April 1999

This exhibition honored New York's place in eighteenth-century American history as the strategic key to both the American and British campaigns during the Revolution and as the birthplace of the Society of the Cincinnati at the end of the war.

The Nineteenth-Century View of the American Revolution

May – September 1998

Drawn exclusively from the Society's library collections, the works on view in this exhibition included early histories, biographies, memoirs, children's literature, and fiction published about the Revolution between 1800 and 1899.

Massachusetts in the American Revolution: "Let It Begin Here"

October 1997 – May 1998

Beginning with the political crisis that led to the American Revolution, this exhibition examined the dramatic events in Massachusetts that resulted in war and the responses of its citizens, which inspired the rest of the colonies to follow it towards independence.

Exhibition Catalogs