Sons of the American Revolution
Named afterAmerican Revolution
EstablishedApril 30, 1889
(134 years ago)
Founded atNew York City
TypePatriotic organization
Legal statusFederally chartered nonprofit corporation
PurposeFraternal, patriotic, historical, charitable, educational
Headquarters809 West Main Street,
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
Coordinates38°15′28″N 85°45′49″W / 38.25778°N 85.76361°W / 38.25778; -85.76361
Region served
38,323 (2022)
Official language
PublicationSpirit of '76
AffiliationsDaughters of the American Revolution
Children of the American Revolution

The Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), formally the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR), is a federally chartered patriotic organization. The National Society, a nonprofit corporation headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, was formed on April 30, 1889, in New York City. Its objectives are to maintain and extend "the institutions of American freedom, an appreciation for true patriotism, a respect for our national symbols, the value of American citizenship, [and] the unifying force of 'e pluribus unum' that has created, from the people of many nations, one nation and one people."[1]

The members of the society are male descendants of people who served in the American Revolutionary War or who contributed to establishing the independence of the United States. It is dedicated to perpetuating American ideals and traditions, and to protecting the United States Constitution; the official recognition of Constitution Day, Flag Day, and Bill of Rights Day were established through its efforts. It has members in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The organization is distinct from the Sons of the Revolution, a separate patriotic organization founded on February 22, 1876, by businessman John Austin Stevens and members of the Society of the Cincinnati. Sons of the American Revolution founder William Osborn McDowell disagreed with the Sons of the Revolution requirement at that time that all state societies were to be subordinate to the New York Society.


U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, member of the Sons of the American Revolution, signed the federal charter on June 9, 1906.

The first organization of descendants of Revolutionary War patriots was established in San Francisco, in 1876. A group of men who were descendants of American Revolutionary War veterans gathered to celebrate the centennial of the Declaration of Independence and the founding of the United States. They also wanted to honor the men and women who pledged their lives, fortunes, and livelihood to the striving for independence from Great Britain. This group formed an organization called the Sons of Revolutionary War Sires. There is, however, no direct link between the Sons of Revolutionary War Sires and the Sons of the American Revolution except that members of the Sons of Revolutionary War Sires were permitted to join the Sons of the American Revolution after its founding in 1889.

The organization's founding can be traced to the Sons of the Revolution, a New York City society that was organized in 1876. Sons of the American Revolution was founded by John Austin Stevens, who envisioned an aristocratic social and hereditary organization along the lines of the Society of the Cincinnati.

In 1889, William O. McDowell, a New Jersey financier and businessman, organized the New Jersey Society of the Sons of the Revolution but was unwilling to accept the Sons of the Revolution's requirement that other state societies be subordinate to the New York society. McDowell also wanted the society to become more of a mass movement of descendants of Revolutionary patriots rather than an exclusive social club.

McDowell organized the Sons of the American Revolution at Fraunces Tavern in New York City, on April 30, 1889, the same year as the centennial anniversary of the first inauguration of George Washington as the nation's first president in 1789. McDowell was the organization's first member. In addition to organizing the Sons of the American Revolution, McDowell worked with six women to organize Daughters of the American Revolution, a national organization for women who descend from American Revolution era figures.

On June 9, 1906, Sons of the American Revolution was formally granted a congressional charter by an act of Congress under Title 36 of the United States Code. The act was signed by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, who was a member.


Brigadier General Edwin S. Greeley in U.S. Army uniform, president general from 1904 to 1905, wearing the badge of the Sons of the American Revolution.

The society's insignia consists of a Maltese cross surrounded by a garland, with a relief of George Washington in a center circle. The Maltese cross used in the Badge of the Sons of the American Revolution draws its inspiration from the cross used by the Order of St. Louis of France. The wreath symbolizes the laurel wreaths presented to worthy individuals by the Roman Republic. Major West selected the Cross of St. Louis as his basis for the decoration because King Louis XVI of France, the Grand Master of the Order of St. Louis, provided badly needed aid to the fledgling Continentals. In choosing this cross, the National Society intended to recognize the French contribution to American independence.

History shows that the Maltese Cross was used by the Knights of St. John, a brotherhood of warrior Crusaders who represented all walks of life who banded together to fight for freedom and against oppression. The Knights of St. John, and other Crusaders, adopted the Maltese cross as their insignia because its eight points represented the eight Beatitudes prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount: blessed are (1) the poor in spirit, (2) the meek, (3) the pure, (4) the merciful, and (5) the peacemakers, (6) blessed are they that mourn, and (7) seek righteousness, and (8) blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness sake.

Surrounding the relief of Washington in the center are the words "LIBERTAS ET PATRIA", a reminder of the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.[2]

The insignia is normally worn suspended by a ribbon of blue, white and gold (buff) on the wearer's left breast. National officers and former state and chapter presidents wear the insignia suspended from a neck ribbon of the Society's colors. On other occasions a rosette in the Society's colors is worn on the wearers left lapel.


The color guard of Sons of the American Revolution's Indiana chapter alongside the recreated 19th U.S. Infantry Regiment at an outdoor Independence Day concert with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in Indianapolis in 2006.

The society is involved in historical research, raising funds for local scholarships and educational awards, and preservation of sites and documents related to the American Revolution. The Sons of the American Revolution petitioned Congress to store Revolutionary era documents in a fire-proof area and make them available to the public, leading to the creation of the National Archives.[3] It is also active in cataloging and marking Revolutionary War patriot graves and conducts an annual Eagle Scout scholarship program. The society is active in promoting "patriotism", and was instrumental in the establishment of Constitution Day.[4] Numerous Sons of the American Revolution societies and chapters have active color guard groups that appear in various public and private venues as a means of community outreach.

The Sons of the American Revolution hosts two Leadership Meetings and one National Congress every year. The two leadership meetings are held in the Spring and Fall in Louisville, KY at the Brown Hotel. The National Congress is held at a different location every year during the Summer. The 2021 National Congress took place in Renton, Washington, while the 2022 Congress took place in Savannah, Georgia. The 2023 National Congress will take place in Orlando, Florida.


The headquarters, located along Museum Row in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, contains the organization's administrative staff offices, Sons of the American Revolution Genealogical Research Library, and the future site of an American Revolutionary War Education Center. The Sons of the American Revolution is currently raising funds to finish the center's development. The building houses original and copied art that commemorates important people and events of the Revolutionary War, as well as historical uniforms, flags, documents, and other colonial era pieces.

The governance of the Sons of the American Revolution is made up of ten national officers, 15 vice presidents that preside over separate geographical regions, and one trustee, who is elected from each state and international society. The officers meet several times over the year to discuss business pertaining to the society. National Officers meet at least four times during their term of office, unless special meetings are called. Trustees meet twice annually at the society's headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky. These meetings, known as the Fall and Spring Leadership Meetings, are normally held in late September and early March. During leadership meetings, committee recommendations and the society's budget are approved. While only national officers, vice presidents, and trustees have the right to vote on the floor, all members are invited to attend and may request appointment to committees.

National officers and trustees also meet during the National Congress, which is held in late June or early July of each year. Unlike the leadership meetings, which always take place at the Society's national headquarters, the National Congress is held in different locations throughout the United States. Locations are often selected in order to honor a historical event in United States history or in the organization's history, and there is an effort to alternate the meetings between the East and West coasts of the United States. The National Congress is responsible for electing national officers and approving changes to the society's constitution, along with any other motions brought before it.

The organization also maintains over 60 standing and special committees that Sons of the American Revolution members are appointed to in order to oversee the society's welfare, including committees on facilities, insurance, genealogy, library, merchandise, medals, and awards. All members are welcome to participate on committees and are appointed by the society's president general for a one-year term. There are no term-limits and all committee members have the right to vote on the committee's decisions.

The current President General is John L. Dodd, Esq., California Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, who was sworn in as President General at the 133rd National Congress in Orlando, Florida. The organization's executive director is Todd Bale.

Genealogical library

Sons of the American Revolution grave marker at the Opequon Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Opequon, Virginia.

The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution has held a collection of genealogical reference dating back to 1889. Materials were originally kept by the Secretary General or Registrar General up until 1926, when the materials were moved to the Registrar General's office in Washington, D.C., in 1927, this collection was moved to the recently purchased Sixteenth Street Headquarters Building, and the collection had grown to 914 books by 1933. From this point until the move of Headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Louisville, Kentucky, the book collection grew at a rapid pace, growing to approximately 25,000 items by 1988. At this point, the Library was on the Second floor of the Headquarters building on South Fourth Street, and possessed a 544-square-foot vault for books not out in the library due to space.

Because of continuing growth, the Sons of the American Revolution Library was moved in 2010 to a renovated building on West Main Street in the heart of the Historic Museum District of downtown Louisville. By this point, the Library collection had grown to over 58,000 items, mostly covering the Revolutionary War period, but also containing other genealogical materials. The library collection includes family histories, state genealogy materials, federal censuses, Revolutionary War pension applications, and CD collections, and the library separates materials based on State. The library also provides access to online research databases, including,, and Heritage Quest Online.

It was supported by several other patriotic societies, including the Society of American Wars and the United States Daughters of 1812.[5]: 115  The Daughters of the American Revolution stocked it in its library and even considered merging it with another of its own magazines.[5]: 115  It ceased publication in 1906.[5]: 115 


The society operates a merchandise department that sells items intended for both Sons of the American Revolution members and the general public. Among the products available to the general public are: clothing apparel for men and women, Revolutionary War replicas such as Liberty Bells and field cannons, jewelry for men and women such as lapel pins and cuff links, along with cups, mugs, key-chains, books, CDs, videos and knickknacks. Items intended for Sons of the American Revolution members only include: clothing, decals, license plate holders and frames, certificates and medals corresponding to Sons of the American Revolution activities, medals designed to reward active and retired military personnel, firefighters, EMS, Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps and Senior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, individuals involved in education, Eagle Scouts and many others.

The merchandise department is located on the lower level of the Sons of the American Revolution Genealogical Library, located at 809 West Main Street, just across the street from the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.


U.S. Army Brevet Brigadier General Horace Porter, president general from 1892 to 1897.

See also: Daughters of the American Revolution

Membership in the society is open to any male of "good repute"[6] who can prove lineal bloodline descent from an ancestor who actively supported the American Revolution.[7] Acceptable ancestors include:

No state society or chapter may discriminate against an applicant on the basis of race or creed. The Sons of the American Revolution claims a membership of over 37,000 members in over 550 chapters representing all 50 states in the United States, as well as societies in Canada, France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Overall, about 200,000 descendants have been admitted since the founding of the S.A.R. in 1890.


The journal of the organization at the turn of the 20th century was the Spirit of '76 magazine, a little magazine published in New York.[5]: 114–115  It was founded in September 1894, published by the eponymous Spirit of '76 Publishing Company and edited by Henry Hall, one of McDowell's associates.[5]: 114  In 1897 Louis H. Cornish, previously the editor of another magazine titled Suburbs that was about real estate in New York City, took over as both editor and publisher.[5]: 114  Cornish's opinion of McDowell, who in Cornish's words "came to us with various schemes of making the world better, and we entered into them and have since paid for it" was that McDowell's ideas for the magazine were enthusiastic but wildly impractical.[5]: 115 [8]: 358 

List of presidents general

  1. Lucius Parmenias Deming, of Connecticut, 1889–1890
  2. William Seward Webb, of New York, 1890–1892
  3. Horace Porter, of New York, 1892–1897
  4. Edward Shepard Barrett, of Massachusetts, 1897–1898
  5. Franklin Murphy, of New Jersey, 1898–1900
  6. Joseph Cabell Breckinridge, of Kentucky, 1900–1901
  7. Walter S. Logan, of New York, 1901–1902
  8. Edwin Warfield, of Maryland, 1902–1903
  9. Edwin S. Greeley, of Connecticut, 1903–1905
  10. James Denton Hancock, of Pennsylvania, 1904–1905
  11. Francis Henry Appleton, of Massachusetts, 1905–1906
  12. Cornelius Amory Pugsley, of New York, 1906–1907
  13. Nelson Alvin McClary, of Illinois, 1907–1908
  14. Henry Stockbridge Jr., of Maryland, 1908–1909
  15. Morris Beach Beardsley, of Connecticut, 1909–1910
  16. William Allen Marble, of New York, 1910–1911
  17. Moses Greeley Parker, of Massachusetts, 1911–1912
  18. James McElroy Richardson, of Ohio, 1912–1913
  19. Rogers Clark Ballard Thruston, of Kentucky, 1913–1915
  20. Newell Bertram Woodworth, of New York, 1915–1916
  21. Elmer Marston Wentworth, of Iowa, 1916–1918
  22. Louis Annin Ames, of New York, 1918–1919
  23. Chancellor Livingston Jenks Jr., of Illinois, 1919–1920
  24. James H. Preston, of Maryland, 1920–1921
  25. Wallace McCamant, of Oregon, 1921–1922
  26. W. I. Lincoln Adams, of New Jersey, 1922–1923
  27. Arthur Preston Sumner, of Rhode Island, 1923–1924
  28. Marvin Harrison Lewis, of Kentucky, 1924–1925
  29. Harvey Foote Remington, of New York, 1925–1926
  30. Wilbert Hamilton Barrett, of Michigan, 1926–1927
  31. Ernest E. Rogers, of Connecticut, 1927–1928
  32. Ganson Depew, of New York, 1928–1929
  33. Howard Rowley, of California, 1929–1930
  34. Josiah Alexander Van Orsdel, of Washington, D.C., 1930–1931
  35. Benjamin Newhall Johnson, of Massachusetts, 1931–1932
  36. Frederick William Millspaugh, of Tennessee, 1932–1933
  37. Arthur Milton McGrillis, of Rhode Island, 1933–1935
  38. Henry Fennimore Baker, of Maryland, 1935–1936
  39. Messmore Kendall, of New York, 1936–1940
  40. Smith Lewis Multer, of New Jersey, 1943–1946
  41. Allen Laws Oliver, of Missouri, 1946–1947
  42. A. Herbert Foreman, of Virginia, 1947–1948
  43. Charles Bunn Shaler, of Pennsylvania, 1948
  44. Benjamin Harrison Powell III, of Texas, 1948–1949
  45. John Whelchel Finger, of New York, 1949–1950
  46. Wallace Clare Hall, of Michigan, 1950–1952
  47. Ray Omer Edwards, of Florida, 1952–1953
  48. A. Alexander le Pelletier de la Houssaye, of Louisiana, 1953–1954
  49. Milton Miles Lory, of Iowa, 1954–1955
  50. Edgar Williamson Jr., of New Jersey, 1955–1956
  51. Eugene Pendleton Carver Jr., of Massachusetts, 1956–1957
  52. George Edward Tarbox Jr., of Colorado, 1957–1958
  53. Walter Allerton Wentworth, of New York, 1958–1959
  54. Charles Aubrey Jones, of Ohio, 1959–1960
  55. Herschel Stratton Murphy, of New Jersey, 1960–1961
  56. Horace Yeargin Kitchell, of Mississippi, 1961–1962
  57. Charles Arner Anderson, of Ohio, 1962–1963
  58. Robert Leon Sonfield, of Texas, 1963–1964
  59. Harry Thomas Burn, of Tennessee, 1964–1965
  60. Howard Emerson Coe, of Connecticut, 1965–1966
  61. Kenneth Godfrey Smith, of Pennsylvania, 1966–1967
  62. Len Young Smith, of Illinois, 1967–1968
  63. Walter Gage Sterling, of Texas, 1968–1969
  64. James Bronson Gardiner II, of New York, 1969–1970
  65. Walter Reville Martin, of Rhode Island, 1970–1971
  66. Eugene Clifford McGuire, of Ohio, 1971–1972
  67. Ryall Stapleton Morgan, of Alabama, 1972–1973
  68. Marion Howard Crawmer, of Michigan, 1973–1974
  69. M. Graham Clark, of Missouri, 1974–1975
  70. Robert Duval Savage, of Pennsylvania, 1975–1976
  71. Matthew Bacon Sellers III, of Florida, 1976–1977
  72. Wilson King Barnes Sr., of Maryland, 1977–1978
  73. Calvin Ellsworth Chunn, of California, 1978–1980
  74. Arthur Mansfield King, of Kansas, 1980–1981
  75. Richard Henry Thompson Jr., of Florida, 1981–1982
  76. Howard Laverne Hamilton, of Virginia, 1982–1983
  77. Warren Griffin Hayes Jr., of Pennsylvania, 1983–1984
  78. Carl Francis Bessent, of Maryland, 1984–1985
  79. Benjamin Hume Morris, of Kentucky, 1985–1986
  80. Clovis Hunter Brakebill, of Texas, 1986–1987
  81. Nolan Wendell Carson, of Ohio, 1987–1988
  82. Charles Francis Printz, of West Virginia, 1988–1989
  83. James Roger Westlake, of Georgia, 1989–1990
  84. James Robert Calhoun, of New Mexico, 1990–1991
  85. George Henry Brandau, of Texas, 1991–1992
  86. Paul Howard Walker, of Massachusetts, 1992–1993
  87. Robert Bell Vance Sr., of Georgia, 1993–1994
  88. Stewart Boone McCarty Jr., of Washington, D.C., 1994–1995
  89. William C. Gist Jr., of Kentucky, 1995–1996
  90. Reon Glessner Hillegass Jr., of Virginia, 1996–1997
  91. Carl K. Hoffman II, of Florida, 1997–1998
  92. Russell Duff Page, of Illinois, 1998–1999
  93. Howard F. Horne Jr., of Delaware, 1999–2000
  94. Bruce Baird Butler, of Louisiana, 2000–2001
  95. Larry D. McClanahan, of Tennessee, 2001–2002
  96. B. Rice Aston, of Texas, 2002–2003
  97. Raymond G. Musgrave, of West Virginia, 2003–2004
  98. Henry N. McCarl, of Massachusetts, 2004–2005
  99. Roland G. Downing, of Delaware, 2005–2006
  100. Nathan E. White Jr., of Texas, 2006–2007
  101. Bruce A. Wilcox, of Virginia, 2007–2008
  102. David N. Appleby, of Missouri, 2008–2009
  103. Edward F. Butler, of Texas, 2009–2010
  104. J. David Sympson, of Kentucky, 2010–2011
  105. Larry J. Magerkurth, of California, 2011–2012
  106. Stephen Arthur Leishman, of Delaware, 2012–2013
  107. Joseph W. Dooley, of Virginia, 2013–2014
  108. Lindsay C. Brock, of Florida, 2014–2015
  109. Thomas E. Lawrence, of Texas, 2015–2016
  110. J. Michael Tomme Sr., of Georgia, 2016–2017
  111. Larry T. Guzy, of Georgia, 2017–2018
  112. Warren M. Alter, of Arizona, 2018–2019
  113. John T. Manning, of New Hampshire, 2019–2021
  114. Davis L. Wright, of Delaware, 2021–2022
  115. C. Bruce Pickette, of Alabama, 2022–2023
  116. John L. Dodd, of California, 2023–2024

List of honorary presidents general

See also


  1. ^ "OKSSAR – Purpose". Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  2. ^ "Suggested Induction Ceremony for New Members No. Two". The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution Official Handbook Volume II: History, Organization and Protocol. The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Archived from the original on August 19, 2014.
  3. ^ Charles B. Schweizer. "SAR New Member Information" (PDF).[dead link]
  4. ^ Williams, Winston C., ed. (1991). Centennial History of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, 1889–1989. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company. p. 9. ISBN 9781563110283. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Davies, Wallace Evan (1955). "The Patriotic Press". Patriotism on Parade: The Story of Veterans' and Hereditary Organizations in America, 1783–1900. Harvard historical Studies. Vol. 66. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674658004. ISSN 0073-053X.
  6. ^ Media, Blackstone. "Sons Of The American Revolution". NSSAR – National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.
  7. ^ The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution Official Handbook. September 2012. p. 1. Archived from the original on August 19, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  8. ^ Cornish, Louis H., ed. (August 1898). "editorial". The Spirit of '76. Vol. 4, no. 48. New York: Spirit of '76 Publishing Company.