Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts

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Faneuil Hall in 1776. The Artillery Company has headquarters in the top level (attic) of Faneuil Hall

The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts is the oldest chartered military organization in North America[1] and the third oldest chartered military organization in the world.[2] While it was originally constituted as a citizen militia serving on active duty in defense of the northern British colonies, it has become, over the centuries primarily an honor guard and a social and ceremonial group in Massachusetts. Today the Company serves as Honor Guard to the Governor of Massachusetts who is also its Commander in Chief.

History[edit]

First Town-House, Boston where the AHAC would meet.
Colonel Thomas Crafts, Jr., a member of the AHAC

As the settlements which followed the landing at Plymouth increased and spread, there was no organized military force for protection - only local volunteer companies, which lacked the capacity for joint action or any centralized authority. Many of the settlers of Boston had been members in England of the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) of London, and the military training they had received in that company led them to form a similar organization in the new country. In 1637 the company was formed as a citizen militia for instruction in military discipline and tactics. Robert Keayne and many of the original members of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company had been members of the original HAC of London.

Governor Winthrop granted a charter on March 13, 1638, and on the first Monday in June following, an election of officers was held on Boston Common. The original name of the Company was "The Military Company of Massachusetts". It began to be referred to as "The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company" in the year 1737.

Among the charter members was Nicholas Upsall, who later forsook his membership to join the Quakers. Since that time, the company has continued to hold their annual elections on the Boston Common on the first Monday in June by casting their votes on a drum head. Company membership has long been considered a distinction among the New England gentry in a similar manner to which regimental membership conferred distinction on the sons of the English gentry. The Honourable Artillery Company of London and the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts acknowledge and celebrate their common historical roots.

Since 1746, the headquarters of the Company has been located in Faneuil Hall. In this armory, the company maintains a military museum and library containing relics from every war in which the United States has been engaged since its settlement. The armory is open to the public daily.

Prior to 1913, the Company served as the de facto officer school for the Massachusetts Militia. (Although not all officers in the Massachusetts Militia were selected from members of the Company.) In 1913, the Massachusetts Militia established the Training School for officer training. This school was later renamed the Massachusetts Military Academy and is today designated the 101st Regiment - Regional Training Institute (RTI). [3]

Membership[edit]

Membership in the company has traditionally been selected from the upper middle and upper classes of Boston society. In recent decades membership has been expanded to include those from outside of Massachusetts. It is common for senior officers in the Massachusetts National Guard to be members of the Company. Although prior military service is not a requirement for membership, about one third of the current (2014) members of the Company have served in the Armed Forces of the United States, in most cases as commissioned officers.

Prior to the late 20th Century, the membership of the Company was almost exclusively white Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs). In recent decades, however, the Company has recruited a more diverse membership.

Most individuals who join the Company are elected as Regular Members. After serving in the Company for a prescribed period of time, Regular Members become Life Members.

Individuals who are descendants from members of the Company who joined prior to 1738 may join as members by right of descent. Members by right of descent have discounted membership fees but may not vote or hold office in the Company. In rare cases, honorary membership is extended to highly distinguished individuals.[4]

Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company members have served in King Philip's War, King William's War, Queen Anne's War, King George's War, the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the War in Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. [5]

The Company has had eight members who were awarded the Medal of Honor (two of which are still living), and has also had four members who served as President of the United States: Presidents James Monroe, Chester A. Arthur, Calvin Coolidge and John F. Kennedy. Honorary membership was also extended to Prince Albert, King Edward VII and King George V. Several Governors of Massachusetts have also been members of the Company.

In 2012, the organization voted to induct its first woman members. Lieutenant Colonel Catherine M. Corkery and Lieutenant Colonel Christine Hoffmann, both officers in the Massachusetts National Guard, were inducted into the organization on September 17, 2012. [6]

Motto[edit]

The Company's official motto is "Acta Non Verba" - a Latin phrase meaning "Deeds Not Words".

Referring to the Company's well-known social cachet, some wags have suggested its unofficial motto is "Invincible in Peace, Invisible in War."

Parodies[edit]

In the 1870s, this organization was parodied in Ancient and Horribles Parade in Vermont and other places in New England. This practice largely died out by 1900.[7]

In 1927 Chepachet, Rhode Island refounded this parade.[8]

Noteworthy members[edit]

Presidents of the United States[edit]

Medal of Honor recipients[edit]

Governors of Massachusetts[edit]

Others[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Boston Military Group Honors American Airlines for Its Long-Standing Support of U.S. Armed Forces". Retrieved 12-09-2009. 
  2. ^ "Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts: Museum, Library & Armory Boston, Massachusetts". Archived from the original on 1 December 2009. Retrieved 12-09-2009. 
  3. ^ http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/army/101rti.htm
  4. ^ http://www.ahac.us.com/membership.htm
  5. ^ "HISTORY OF THE COMPANY (SUMMARY)". Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  6. ^ Martine Powers (2012-09-10). "Mass. corps votes in first female members". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  7. ^ Johnson, Tim (July 3, 2011). "History:Vermont had no signers July 4th". Burlington Free Press (Burlington, Vermont). pp. 1A, 4A. 
  8. ^ Bryan Rourke, "Ancient and Horribles Parade has long tradition," Providence Journal (Lifebeat) (July 3, 2008)[1] (accessed December 19, 2008).

External links[edit]