WASHINGTON, George, President. Engraved document signed ("G:Washington") as President, countersigned by Henry Knox, Mount Vernon, 2 April 1788. 1page, oblong folio, 360 x 510 mm. (14.1/8 x 20 in.), accomplished in manuscript, PRINTED ON PARCHMENT. A CERTIFICATE OF MEMBERSHIP IN THE SOCIETY OF CINCINNATI. Elaborately engraved by Jean-Jacques Andr Le Veau (1729-1786) after an original design of Pierre Charles L'Enfant (1754-1825) as drawn by Augustin-Louis La Belle (1757-1841); with complex allegorical vignettes surrounding the calligraphic text: naval warships under sail, Brittania and a British lion fleeing bolts of lightning from an American eagle, and circular medallic emblems of the Society of the Cincinnati, the ink accomplishments slightly faded, affecting the first three letters of Washington's signature, otherwise an excellent copy of a document often found in mediocre state. Washington and Knox certify the membership of the Marquis de Rostaing.
SOCIETY OF CINCINNATI MEMBERSHIP FOR A FRENCH OFFICER WHO SERVED AT YORKTOWN
The Society of Cincinnati, the text explains, was "...instituted by the Officers of the American Army, at the period of its Dissolution...to commemorate the great Event which gave independence to North America," and "for...inculcating the Duty of laying down in Peace arms assumed for public defence..." The Society, open to all former officers of the Continental Army and its foreign allies, was founded with Washington's approval by Henry Knox, Jedidiah Huntington and Baron von Steuben. Its constitution was formally adopted on 13 May 1783. The order was named after "that illustrious Roman, Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus," who had left his prosperous farm on two occasions to take up arms in defense of his homeland. Washington agreed to become president of the Society; Alexander Hamilton filled the post after Washington's death.
Antoine Henri-Marie-Germain de Rostaing (1740-1825) was a page at the court of Louis XV, was captain of a company of cavalry from 1760 to 1762 and rose to command the d'Auxerrois and Gatinais regiment, which was part of the force commanded by General Rochambeau serving under Washington's command during the crucial Yorktown campaign. In 1783, Rostaing was named Marechal-en-camp and awarded the order of Saint Louis. On his return to America he was involved in politics, and was named Secretary of the Assembly in 1789. (For his later career see Biographie Universel, Supplement, 80:5-6)