The Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick began in Philadelphia in 1771 at the midst of the foundation of our country. Earliest members include many influential patriots who were devoted to the cause of liberty.
Among the honorary members of the first meeting were John Dickenson and Robert Morris; both of whom later signed the Declaration of Independence, and General George Washington. The first president was General Stephen Moylan, who was a private secretary to General George Washington. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin also frequented meetings of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.
Following in the footsteps of the Society in Philadelphia was the Society in New York, which was founded in 1784. The New York Society formed to provide relief to the widows and children of Irish soldiers who had served in the American Revolution. Prominent members included Governor Charles Whitman, Mayor John P. Mitchell, Governor Alfred E. Smith, Wilton Lackaye, noted actor, and Augustus Thomas, noted dramatic critic and playwright.
Throughout the 1800s, the Friendly Sons of Philadelphia inspired its members to aid the victims of starvation, eviction, and exile from Ireland. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, charity extended to victims of floods and other natural disasters.
During the early 1900s and amidst warfare, a free and independent Irish state was born. The Friendly Sons provided relief to those who suffered as a result of hostility.