Revolutionary War medal is one of two surviving examples produced in 1783 for officers of the Continental Army; hereditary organization continues to this day
Public exhibition begins July 4 to coincide with Independence Day celebrations
Fort Ticonderoga today announced the public display of one of the rarest and most important objects from the nation’s founding – an original Society of the Cincinnati gold eagle medal.
The priceless Revolutionary War medal is one of two surviving examples produced in Paris in 1783 for purchase by officers of the Continental Army. The medal, which has never been viewed publicly, is on generous loan to Fort Ticonderoga from the Robert Nittolo Collection, the largest and most important private collection of 18th-century militaria in North America.
“The value of the medal is not only in its extreme rarity, but in its cultural and historical significance to the founding principles of the United States of America,” said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga President and CEO. “We are excited to share such an important piece of American history with our guests. The exhibition including this rare medal is emblematic of the breadth and importance of Fort Ticonderoga’s museum collections and as a place to explore the origins of our nation’s rich military culture.”
The Society of the Cincinnati was founded by officers of the Continental Army in 1783. To signify membership in this exclusive organization, medals were commissioned by Pierre Charles L’Enfant (who is best known as the designer of the street plan of Washington D.C.) This medal is one of 140 made by the Jewelers Duval and Francastel in Paris, to be sold to members of the society when L’Enfant returned to America in 1784.
This particular medal was owned by Captain Richard Douglass from New London, Connecticut. He was one of the Connecticut men that marched to Massachusetts upon learning of the engagements at Lexington and Concord in 1775. Douglass was one of the few soldiers to serve in the Continental Army for the duration of the war. He saw action in a number of battles and witnessed the British surrender at Yorktown before returning home in 1784.
Captain Douglass was an original member of the Society along with other notable patriots including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Society founder Henry Knox – who has a direct tie to Fort Ticonderoga. Knox traveled to the fort in the winter of 1775 to retrieve seized British artillery and transport them to Boston. His actions helped end the siege of the city in early 1776.
The exhibition featuring the original Society of the Cincinnati gold eagle medal and other rare Fort Ticonderoga museum collections explores how the Society of Cincinnati was established to ensure that their sacrifices in the service of the cause of Independence would not be forgotten. Public viewing begins on July 4 and continues until October 31, 2018.
The Society of the Cincinnati is the nation’s oldest patriotic organization and remains active to this day. More information: societyofthecincinnati.org
America’s Fort is a registered trademark of the Fort Ticonderoga Association.
Photo credit: ©Fort Ticonderoga/Photographer Miranda Peters (12-2017)
High Resolution photo can be downloaded by clicking: Fort Ticonderoga – Cincinnati Medal