The Founding of the DAR (2022)

Just as an understanding of our nation's past is essential to its future, so a prologue of the Daughters' past is necessary to understand the strength and determination that will ensure their continued success.

The Founding of the DAR (1)

(Video) The Founding of the DAR

The Daughters of the American Revolution, among other organizations, grew out of the late-nineteenth-century fervor of the Colonial Revival. One event helped concentrate this passion for the past. On May 10, 1876, the world joined the nation in the opening of one of the grandest birthday parties ever thrown – the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Some ten million people attended the nation’s first international exposition, and one exhibit in particular seemed to capture the longings of American hearts after so many battles on so many fronts: “ A reconstruction of a ‘colonial kitchen’ replete with spinning wheel and costumed presenters sparked an era of ‘Colonial Revival’ in American architecture and house furnishings,” as described in more than one reference.

In the first one hundred years after its fight for independence, America, more concerned with its future than its brief past, was absorbed alternately with forming and refining its own unique democracy, exploring and expanding the continent, fighting another war with England in 1812, and reuniting the nation after the bitter battles of the Civil War. At the end of that war, the country was free again to pursue what it considered its “Manifest Destiny” to occupy the continent from “sea to shining sea.” But following the Centennial Exposition, suddenly the art and architecture, personal possessions, and histories of the founding fathers and mothers became American treasures to be preserved.

Initially, the Daughters thought to join the Sons of the American Revolution, organized in 1889, in what seemed a common mission: to perpetuate the memory and spirit of the Revolutionary patriots. But at a meeting of the Sons in Louisville, Kentucky, on April 30, 1890, the Sons voted to exclude women, galvanizing a force as determined as that which fought for American Independence. As Letitia Green Stevenson would later write in her 1913 account of the Society’s founding: “It became apparent that if women were to accomplish any distinctive patriotic work, it must be within their own circle, and under their own leadership. The ardor and zeal of a few undaunted women never flagged, and their determination to organize a distinct woman’s society became a fixed purpose.”

The morning after the Son’s fateful vote, “American women throughout the country read the account in the newspapers and were stirred with indignation,” a sentiment documented for posterity in the first annual report to the Congress of the newly organized National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. One of those women, Mary Smith Lockwood, widow of a Union soldier, noted author and women’s rights advocate, channeled her reaction in a stirring letter to the Washington Post printed in July 13, 1890. In it, she recounted the thrilling story of the heroic Hannah Arnett, who courageously challenged a meeting of men hosted by her husband in their home, shaming them into supporting the cause of the revolution. Mary Lockwood ended her letter with these questions: “Were there no mothers of the Revolution? Where will the Sons and Daughters of the Revolution place Hannah Arnett?” Her questions would be answered swiftly by hundreds.

On October 11, 1890, Mary Smith Lockwood hosted the first organizational meeting of the new National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Eighteen women attended, as well as four of the six Sons of the American Revolution who would serve as the advisory board to the NSDAR in its first few years of existence. By the end of the meeting, eleven members had paid their dues, and the DAR opened for business with $33 in the bank.

(Video) In Their Words - The Story of the Founding

Founder Ellen Hardin Walworth would write in the February 1893 American Monthly Magazine, “it is not a social organization…, it is an order patriotic, historical, genealogical, and holds itself closely to these objects.” Created in a time when women “were also reaching for something beyond the household,” when “the idea of doing something unrelated to their families was an enormous breakthrough for many,” as described by Gail Collins in America’s Women, this new society of women would harness a desire for service that was the defining feature of their Progressive Era.

The first members of the DAR were quick to realize and recognize that “there is a woman to whom we owe more than to any other woman . . ..” At the urging of Mary Desha, Mary Virginia Ellet Cabell (inset) (1839-1930) attended the first organizing meeting of the National Society on October 11, 1890, and it was she who led it. Mary Cabell agreed that the new Society “should be presided over by a lady prominent in the United States,” so that same day, she and William O. McDowell paid a visit to Caroline Scott Harrison, following up on the letter sent by Mary Desha two months prior. The First Lady accepted, but only upon the promise that Mrs. Cabell would perform the bulk of those responsibilities, including not only presiding at most meetings but also handling the daily details of the office, forging policy, solving problems, and ensuring the success of the new organization. So she was appointed Vice President Presiding and later President Presiding, singular offices that only Mrs. Cabell ever held.

Her home became the headquarters of the Society for its first year. Daughter of Charles Ellet, Jr., a prominent civil engineer who built the first suspension bridge in the United States, it was Mary Virginia Cabell who proposed “the building of a House Beautiful, . . . the finest building ever owned by women . . .” one that would serve “as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.” She would live to see not only the realization of her vision in Memorial Continental Hall, but also the Administration Building and Constitution Hall. She died July 4, 1930, at the age of ninety-one, the same date in history marked by American independence as well as the passing of signers of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

These elegantly appointed rooms, the home of Mary Virginia Ellet Cabell and her husband, William D. Cabell, served as the first home of the NSDAR for more than a year during which the Society held several meetings a month to chart the course of the new organization.

William O. McDowell, one of the founders of the Sons of the Revolution, reacted quickly and strongly when the Sons voted against allowing women to join the DAR, as did Mary Smith Lockwood, one of the four founders of the DAR. Lockwood’s letter in the Washington Post on July 12, 1890, retold the story of Hannah Arnett, one of the first woman patriots of the Revolution. McDowell was the great-grandson of Hannah Arnett and, immediately after reading Lockwood’s letter in the Post, he penned his own response, published on July 21, 1890, stating, “ . . . in the hands of the women of America patriotic undertakings have never failed. Why not, therefore, invite the formation of the National Society of the ‘Daughters of the American Revolution’ . . ..” His letter concluded with the invitation to “every woman in America who has the blood of the heroes of the revolution in her veins” to send her name and address to him. McDowell would attend the first organizational meeting and long serve as one of the advisors. He was also one of the first to apply for membership in the Daughters of the Revolution. They respectfully declined his application.

(Video) The Founding of the Fartocracy

Decidedly non-traditional women were some of the first to join the new NSDAR. Included in the approximately 850,000 application papers maintained by the DAR is that from women’s rights pioneer Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906). In a letter to the Kentucky DAR in 1897, she wrote: “I hope . . . you will be exceedingly careful to distinguish those actions in which our revolutionary mothers took part.” She became a member of the Irondequoit Chapter, Rochester, New York, in 1898. Anthony was a descendant of Daniel Read, a private in the Continental army and a composer who later became only the second American composer to publish a collection of his own music.

The Daughters’ first Continental Congress was held February 22, 1892, in the Church of Our Father on 13th and L Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C. Before they could adjourn, Mathew B. Brady, one of the most renowned photographers of his day, asked for “the privilege of making a photographic group of the Society, to be added to my historical collection of the most eminent people of the world.” His image would capture not only the four founders but also the first President General, Caroline Scott Harrison (center), as well as the only member ever to hold the title of Vice President Presiding, Mary Virginia Ellet Cabell (to Mrs. Harrison’s right). On Mrs. Harrison’s left are founders Eugenia Washington and Mary Desha. Standing between Mrs. Harrison and Miss Washington are founders Ellen Hardin Walworth and Mary S. Lockwood.

These stories and more can be found in the DAR publication “American Treasure: The Enduring Spirit of the DAR” by Diana L. Bailey.

(Video) DAR Memorial Continental Hall

In Their Words

The Founding of the DAR (12)

FAQs

How was DAR founded? ›

The Daughters of the American Revolution was founded on October 11, 1890 by four determined women and a supporting cast of patriotic citizens. Decidedly not ladies of leisure, the four founders were anything but traditional.

Why is the Daughters of the American Revolution important? ›

DAR is a women's service organization dedicated to promoting historic preservation, education, patriotism and honoring the patriots of the Revolutionary War.

Is the DAR a right wing organization? ›

It's a radical notion for the D.A.R., which for many years was etched into the American consciousness as a right-wing organization comprised of blue-blood dowagers who opposed the United Nations, the Peace Corps, UNICEF Christmas cards, rock 'n' roll, water fluoridization and integration, and who refused to let Marian ...

When was the DAR founded? ›

What does DAR mean? ›

abbreviation for. Daughters of the American Revolution. Slang.

What are the three missions of the DAR? ›

The organization was founded in 1890 with the simple mission of promoting historic preservation, education and patriotism.

Why should I join the DAR? ›

As a member of DAR, through participation in the Society's various programs and activities, you can continue this legacy by actively supporting historic preservation, promotion of education, and patriotic endeavors. establish a network of contacts in your community and all over the world.

Can adopted children join the DAR? ›

Q: I'm adopted can I still become a member? A: Yes, but only through your birth parents' lineage, not that of your adopted family. All lineage for DAR membership must be bloodline descent.

Who started the DAR? ›

Daughters of the American Revolution

What is the mission of the DAR? ›

The DAR, founded in 1890 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a non-profit, non-political volunteer women's service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America's future through better education for children.

Who sparked the founding of the DAR through her letter published in The Washington Post? ›

One of those women, Mary Smith Lockwood, widow of a Union soldier, noted author and women's rights advocate, channeled her reaction in a stirring letter to the Washington Post printed in July 13, 1890.

How do you prove DAR lineage? ›

Any woman 18 years or older who can prove lineal, bloodline descent from an ancestor who aided in achieving American independence is eligible to join the DAR. She must provide documentation for each statement of birth, marriage and death, as well as of the Revolutionary War service of her Patriot ancestor.

Just as an understanding of our nation's past is essential to its future, so a prologue of the Daughters' past is necessary to understand the strength and determination that will ensure their continued success.

The morning after the Son’s fateful vote, “American women throughout the country read the account in the newspapers and were stirred with indignation,” a sentiment documented for posterity in the first annual report to the Congress of the newly organized National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.. On October 11, 1890, Mary Smith Lockwood hosted the first organizational meeting of the new National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.. Founder Ellen Hardin Walworth would write in the February 1893 American Monthly Magazine, “it is not a social organization…, it is an order patriotic, historical, genealogical, and holds itself closely to these objects.” Created in a time when women “were also reaching for something beyond the household,” when “the idea of doing something unrelated to their families was an enormous breakthrough for many,” as described by Gail Collins in America’s Women, this new society of women would harness a desire for service that was the defining feature of their Progressive Era.. The first members of the DAR were quick to realize and recognize that “there is a woman to whom we owe more than to any other woman . . ..” At the urging of Mary Desha, Mary Virginia Ellet Cabell (inset) (1839-1930) attended the first organizing meeting of the National Society on October 11, 1890, and it was she who led it.. William O. McDowell, one of the founders of the Sons of the Revolution, reacted quickly and strongly when the Sons voted against allowing women to join the DAR, as did Mary Smith Lockwood, one of the four founders of the DAR.. The Daughters’ first Continental Congress was held February 22, 1892, in the Church of Our Father on 13th and L Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C. Before they could adjourn, Mathew B. Brady, one of the most renowned photographers of his day, asked for “the privilege of making a photographic group of the Society, to be added to my historical collection of the most eminent people of the world.” His image would capture not only the four founders but also the first President General, Caroline Scott Harrison (center), as well as the only member ever to hold the title of Vice President Presiding, Mary Virginia Ellet Cabell (to Mrs. Harrison’s right).

This exhibit celebrates the lives of women who are or were DAR members who have made significant and positive contributions to American or international culture, society, or history through diligent application of their unique talents and abilities. This Website features just a portion of a list of over 120 Daughters of Distinction that includes several first ladies, writers, artists, educators, scientists, social reformers, entertainers, and many others.

Clara Barton, Founder, American Red Cross Clara Barton (1821 – 1912). Chapter Affiliation Unknown, District of Columbia. Clara Barton, Founder, American Red Cross Invitation to join Barton at Red Cross Headquarters for an event (NSDAR Archives). Clara Barton, Founder, American Red Cross A personal note from Barton to DAR Founder Mary Lockwood (NSDAR Archives).. A staunch supporter of women’s suffrage, Susan B. Anthony worked tirelessly throughout her life to secure women the right to vote.. In 1890 she organized a merger with the more conservative American Woman Suffrage Association to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association.. Susan B. Anthony, Suffragist and Reformer A note typed and signed by Susan B. Anthony (NSDAR Archives).. In addition Dr. McGee served the NSDAR at various times as Vice-President General, Historian General, Librarian General, and Surgeon General.. On display: A picture of Addams and the other Woman’s Peace Party delegates to the first International Congress of Women, 1915 (Library of Congress).. In 1929, Sabin founded the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR) in order to challenge the long-held assumption that all American women in the United States supported Prohibition.. On display: Photograph of Laura Bush with Secretary of Education Rod Paige in the DAR Library while taping a Channel One interview about education conducted by journalists and students, Spring 2001 (NSDAR Archives).

Just as an understanding of our nation's past is essential to its future, so a prologue of the Daughters' past is necessary to understand the strength and determination that will ensure their continued success. The Daughters of the American Revolution, among other organizations, grew out of...

Mary Lockwood ended her letter with these questions: “Were there no mothers of the Revolution?. The first members of the DAR were quick to realize and recognize that “there is a woman to whom we owe more than to any other woman . . ..” At the urging of Mary Desha, Mary Virginia Ellet Cabell (inset) (1839-1930) attended the first organizing meeting of the National Society on October 11, 1890, and it was she who led it.. Mary Cabell agreed that the new Society “should be presided over by a lady prominent in the United States,” so that same day, she and William O. McDowell paid a visit to Caroline Scott Harrison, following up on the letter sent by Mary Desha two months prior.. These elegantly appointed rooms, the home of Mary Virginia Ellet Cabell and her husband, William D. Cabell, served as the first home of the NSDAR for more than a year during which the Society held several meetings a month to chart the course of the new organization.. William O. McDowell, one of the founders of the Sons of the Revolution, reacted quickly and strongly when the Sons voted against allowing women to join the DAR, as did Mary Smith Lockwood, one of the four founders of the DAR.. Lockwood’s letter in the Washington Post on July 12, 1890, retold the story of Hannah Arnett, one of the first woman patriots of the Revolution.. McDowell was the great-grandson of Hannah Arnett and, immediately after reading Lockwood’s letter in the Post, he penned his own response, published on July 21, 1890, stating, “ .. Standing between Mrs. Harrison and Miss Washington are founders Ellen Hardin Walworth and Mary S. Lockwood.

Jump to: One day in the winter of 1896, several ladies were invited to meet at the home of Miss Cora Belle Bickford, and over a cup of tea they discussed the possibility of forming a chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Biddeford, Maine. Twelve members were required to form a

Organizing Officers Top of Page Organizing Regent - Cora Bickford Vice-Regent - Susie Teel Youland Secretary - Bertha Donnell Treasurer - Georgia Staples Registrar - Sophie Tarbox Historian - Sarah Jelleson. New members were added at yearly meetings.. At a meeting held on October 2, 1897, it was voted that since no chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution had been formed in Saco, Maine, the eligible ladies of that city would be invited to join the Rebecca Emery Chapter NSDAR.. The Life of Rebecca Emery Back to top. On January 1, 1719, she married Captain Daniel Smith of Biddeford, Maine, and from this marriage they had ten children.

The United States capital was originally located in Philadelphia, beginning with the First and Second Continental Congress, followed by the Congress of the Confederation upon gaining independence. In June 1783, a mob of angry soldiers converged upon Independence Hall to demand payment for their service during the American Revolutionary War. Congress requested that John Dickinson, the governor of Pennsylvania, call up the militia to defend Congress from attacks by the protesters. In what became known as the Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783, Dickinson sympathized with the protesters and refused to remove them from Philadelphia.  As a result, Congress was forced to flee to Princeton, New Jersey on June 21, 1783.

The selection of the area around the Potomac River, which was the boundary between Maryland and Virginia, both slave states, was agreed upon between James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton.. The signing of the federal Residence Act on July 6, 1790 , mandated that the site for the permanent seat of government, “not exceeding ten miles square” (100 square miles), be located on the “river Potomack, at some place between the mouths of the Eastern-Branch and Connogochegue”.. The Residence Act limited to the Maryland side of the Potomac River the location of land that commissioners appointed by the President could acquire for federal use.. The south cornerstone is at Jones Point.. The west cornerstone is at the west corner of Arlington County, Virginia.

Videos

1. Daughters of the American Revolution Founders Memorial
(C-SPAN)
2. DAR and Historic Preservation
(Daughters of the American Revolution National Headquarters)
3. Caroline's and Janet's Presentation at the DAR Luncheon
(Bob Germond)
4. The DAR Library - Part 1 of 3
(Daughters of the American Revolution National Headquarters)
5. American Artifacts Preview: DAR Museum and Collections
(C-SPAN)
6. DAR and Education
(Daughters of the American Revolution National Headquarters)

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