Aedanus Burke Denounces American Nobility

Aedanus Burke Denounces American Nobility

Aedanus Burke was an inaugural member of the United States House of Representatives from South Carolina.

Burke is better known for his attacks on the Society of the Cincinnati, claiming it was a conspiracy to install nobility into the United States.

Aedanus Burke

Aedanus Burke arrived in America with a theology degree and a lot of travel experience.

Born in Ireland, Burke saw most of the Caribbean before settling down in South Carolina. He quickly fell in love with his knew home and, when the American Revolution began, joined the local militia.

After three years of service, Burke left the militia to accept appointment as a Circuit Judge. Around the same time, he was chosen to serve in the State Assembly.

When the fighting in the South became more intense, Burke resigned his offices to again take up arms for the remainder of the war.


The Society of the Cincinnati

As the Revolutionary War came to a close, several high-ranking Generals began the Society of the Cincinnati.

To Burke, the Cincinnati had all the smatterings of nobility.

First of all, membership in the Society were only permitted to officers who served three years in the war. The title of member would be passed down only to the oldest male heir of a deceased member.

Furthermore, only members of the Continental Army were able to achieve membership. Anyone who served in the State Militias (which were a majority of those who served) where barred from the Society.


Anti-Cincinnati Propaganda

Aedanus Burke would have none of this.

He wrote two pamphlets in 1783 titled An Address to the Freemen of South Carolina and Considerations on the Society or Order of Cincinnati. These articles outlined all of Burke’s fears regarding the organization.

These pamphlets did surprisingly well, bringing criticism of the Cincinnati into the spotlight. Eminent Founders such as Jefferson, Adams and (most vocally) Franklin began calling for change.

George Washington, elected first President of the Society of the Cincinnati, heard these arguments and at the first meeting demanded that the hereditary membership be removed. Although this was done, once Washington’s attention was distracted by other matters the Cincinnati snuck the rule back in.


Chief Justice

Aedanus Burke continued on an impressive political career.

He was elected to the South Carolina Constitutional Ratification Convention where he argued strongly against the New Government.

After the Constitution was accepted anyway, Burke became an inaugural member of the United States House of Representatives. After his term was up, he declined re-nomination in favor of returning home to serve as a Justice.

By 1796 Burke had arrived at the top, earning the office of Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Do you want to learn about another Founder who smell a conspiracy?


Try this article on William Morgan.

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‘The Public Life of Aedanus Burke’ demonstrates well what it was like to be a minor Founder from South Carolina who was against Big Government. Pick up a copy through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).

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