History – Part 3
These qualifications were then written into the Constitution. Shortly afterward, on February 6, 1893, because the word "Colonies" as used in the Constitution did "not with sufficient clearness describe the same," the Society resolved that the word "Colonies" as contained in Article II relating to eligibility to membership "shall be construed and held to mean the Original Nine Colonies, which through the War of Independence became the Original Thirteen States."
The new Council of the Society met frequently after the first General Court, usually at the homes of members of the Council. There were numerous important matters to be determined and details to be worked out. A motto for the Society was adopted: "Fortiter pro Patria" (Bravely for Country). The designs for the Society's Seal and Insignia were adopted, following considerable discussion about the advisability of having the crown surmount the escutcheon in the Seal and the badge of Insignia. The ayes won, and the crown is there today, symbolic of course of the Colonial period that the Society covers—up to the Battle of Lexington. Regulations were worked out for the wearing of these insignia by the Governor, Council Members, and the membership at large. Also approved and adopted at this time was a design for a Society Flag: the red Cross of St. George on a white field, bearing at the crossing in the center the Society Seal.
The New York Society has always been interested in the publication of books and pamphlets on subjects of Colonial interest. The first paper was published in 1896 and many papers or books have been issued to date, some of them appearing in the Society's Year Books. Two of the more notable are "The Journals and Papers of Seth Pomeroy" and "Louisbourg Journals 1745," edited by Louis Effingham de Forest, A.M., J.D., and both being source records of importance. Many of these publications were issued under the supervision of the late Major Herbert Treadwell Wade, who was identified with this Society activity for over thirty years.
For several years there has been considerable discussion about the publishing of an up-to-date Index of Ancestors. Percy Hamilton Goodsell, Jr. published the Second Supplement to Index of Ancestors in 1977, to which he has added 2 updates. We are very grateful for the successful completion of a job of this magnitude, with enormous indexing, compiling and publishing detail.
On December 19th, 1895, the Society moved into the first office of its own at 37 Liberty Street, New York. A second move was made on April 5th, 1897, when Room 62, 45 William Street, was occupied, and these quarters were held until May 1914, when a suite of three rooms at 43 Cedar Street was leased. In the spring of 1922, the Society moved to 40 Rector Street, a newly erected building, but this location proved inconvenient for members of the Society and so, in the winter of 1926, change was made to adequate quarters in 155 East 42nd Street near the subway and other transit facilities. Here the Society remained for three years.
In April of 1929 the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society opened its splendid new building at 122 East 58th Street, in which we were fortunate enough to obtain exceptionally suitable and attractive offices. Upon the sale of this building we relocated to The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen Building at 20 West 44th Street. Our installation in these premises now includes an executive office and Council Chamber; here are displayed our collection of replicas of Colonial flags, historic maps, the Mace, the Great Seal of the Society and many valuable relics of Colonial days in this country. These rooms are open daily except Saturdays and Sundays, to all members.
We have been well represented in the several wars which this country has waged in the last seventy years. To the Spanish-American War we sent 60 members, with the 8th, 22nd, 201st and 203rd Infantry Regiments, New York Volunteers.
In the first World War, 207 members of the Society served with the armed forces of the United States and 202 members enrolled in various civilian organizations connected with war activities such as the American Red Cross, Selective Service Boards, Shipping Board, etc.
In the second World War, 186 members of the Society served with the colors. During the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts, 20 members of the Society were in military service.
Just as there has always been an avoidance of internal politics in the management of the Society, so has there been an absence of any politics in the public position of the Society. The main objective of the Society of Colonial Wars is, as it has always been, the perpetuation of the American way of life, with its guaranteed liberties and its self imposed restraints. Its members believe that they have an inherited responsibility, as well as a patriotic duty, to stand guard over our nation's great heritage, along with all Americans, so that our hard gained rights and cherished institutions may endure.
In closing this brief history of the Society of Colonial Wars, at a time when the world still is torn with conflict and our Country is striving to preserve those essential principles of liberty which our Colonial ancestors strove so valiantly to secure and hold, it is appropriate to quote from the Preamble to the Constitution, which sets forth the reason for the Society's inception and the purposes it endeavors to accomplish:
"Our brave and dauntless forefathers... accomplished the independence of the United States and adopted those imperishable declarations of American brotherhood and inalienable rights which are today the pride and glory of the untrammeled freedom of the whole world."