FORTITER PRO PATRIA
A History of the Society of Colonial Wars
(based primarily on the writings of The Honorable Nathaniel Claiborne Hale, Governor General of the General Society, which appeared in the 75th. Anniversary Commemorative Book, published in 1967 by the General Society of Colonial Wars.)
THE COLONIAL WARS in America may be said to have begun with the earliest great Indian wars for which troops were officially mustered and led into battle by duly appointed officers. Those conflicts, ensuing from cultural, trade or sovereignty collisions, involved organized military actions based upon strategy and tactics. Four such Indian wars were waged in the first half of the 17th century—in Virginia with the Powhatan Confederacy twice (1622-1629, 1644-1646), in New England with the Pequots (1637), and in New Netherland with the Algonquin League (1643-1644). Terrible losses were suffered by the Virginians and the Dutch; the offending Indians in all four wars were almost exterminated.
These four conflicts, together with King Philip's Wars in New England (1675- 1678), first disclosed the courage and determined spirit of our Colonial forefathers in battle. Civil wars and revolts, such as the Maryland disturbances (1644-1657) and Bacon's Rebellion in Virginia (1676), which occurred during this period, revealed the Colonists' independence of thought, their sense of justice, and their natural bent for liberty. Later, with the entanglements in the European wars—the first three of which were known in America as King William's War (1689-1697), Queen Anne's War (1702-17 13), and King George's War (1739-1748)—there came a developing sense of nationalism and duty. Finally, with the great French and Indian War (1754-1763) the Americans became militarily competent, as was evident in the American Revolution which soon followed.
As the leaders of the Colonies realized that their struggle for independence from Royalist England was to be successful, their thoughts immediately turned to establishing firm foundations for a native hereditary aristocracy in America. Some suggested that Washington become our King, but he declined the honor. During the next hundred years, the need to replace the English aristocratic system with one of our own which would include the basic ideologies of the new Republic resulted in the establishment of several hereditary patriotic societies.
The Society of the Cincinnati, of which Washington himself was the first President, had its origin in 1783 at the close of the American Revolution. But up to 1892, although there were hereditary societies honoring the soldiers of the American Revolution, of the War of 1812, of the Mexican War, and of the Civil War, the men who participated in the American Colonial Wars had somehow been neglected. No society existed to commemorate the military events of this significant and formative period in our history; nor was there any patriotic organization dedicated to keeping alive the ideals of liberty that our Colonial forebears achieved by their courageous exploits—those ideals of individual and community freedom that we know as the American way of life.
In the summer of 1892 this deficiency became the subject of earnest conversation among three New York friends of distinguished Colonial ancestry who decided that something should be done about it. These patriotic gentlemen were Samuel Victor Constant, Esq., graduate of Columbia College and member of Co. "A", 7th. Regiment, Edward Trenchard, Esq., the well-known artist, and Colonel Thomas WaIn-Morgan Draper, a civil engineer. On July 10th they convened in Colonel Draper's office at 45 Broadway to plan the formation of the needed Society.