San Francisco Sons of the American Revolution

Founding Chapter of the SAR

Response to Donald Littlefield's Item in NSSAR Magazine

Dear Compatriot President Littlefield:

I have just received my copy of the above mentioned publication [see p. 27 of Fall 2011 NSSAR Magazine] in which the Sacramental Chapter, under your name, published a rebuttal to the basic tenets of the non political or apolitical nature of the NSSAR as stated in NSSAR's principal founding documents recently proffered by our SFSAR Chapter President Anthony Bothwell during CASSAR Manager's Meetings held over the last year. I believe you have completely misunderstood our chapter's guidance on this subject. The apolitical stance that our organization must operate are not merely those stated in the IRS guidelines, regulations or IRS interpretations of same for 501(c) non profit organizations, but more importantly have as their primary basis a far earlier and even far more authoritative document, namely the Articles of Incorporation of the NSSAR by an Act of Congress signed in 1905 by President Theodore Roosevelt.

This document specifically refers one to George Washington's "Farewell Address" in which Washington clearly states his views on the apolitical management of government and related organizations; an apolitical management that Congress intended would be adhered by Congress' Act of Incorporation of the NSSAR which extends not just to our organization but to its officers and membership. NSSAR in other words has long operated as a apolitical organization since inception; certainly long before there was a legitimate IRS or any IRS regulations in which non-political organizations were founded and enforced by the IRS.

One could argue the IRS existed prior to our founding in 1876 as the IRS existed briefly for 10 years after the Civil War and was later revived in 1894 until the Supreme Court found its existence illegal; in either event 501(c) regulations did not exist when NSSAR was incorporated by Congress. The 1905 citation of George Washington's "Farewell Address" is expansive and absolutely authoritative over any IRS 501(c) non profit organization regulations for the NSSAR as a predecessor document where any differences may exist.

In this regard the NSSAR has additional legal restrictions and constraints placed upon itself than would a contemporary 501(c) non profit established today due to the preexisting articles related to apolitical activities stated in the 1905 Act of Congress - NSSAR Articles of Incorporation and its reference to George Washington's "Farewell Address". Perhaps more to the point, NSSAR is barred from evolving or becoming the equivalent of a “Super PAC” 501(c) non profit organization.

Whoever at NSSAR who determined the current IRS interpretation regarding 501(c) regulations applicable to the apolitical nature of our organization, constrained, as you would maintain, only by IRS regulations, clearly did not have the advantage of the documentation I refer in this message or simply ignored it.

One would have to ask why from incorporation to the establishment of 501(c) non profits has the NSSAR been apolitical. It was clearly not because of IRS regulations as they did not exist at the time of our incorporation.

It should be clear by now that NSSAR has prior overwhelming existing legal documentation set forth by an Act of Congress to support the apolitical nature of our organization as both Congress and our founders intended. As such we are not on firm legal ground to simply rely on an interpretation of an IRS regulation to guide us on this matter when an Act of Congress takes precedence.

If you have not read George Washington's "Farewell Address". I strongly suggest you obtain a copy [see Washington's Farewell Address] and refer to the NSSAR website for a pdf file copy of the original 1905 “Incorporation by an Act of Congress" [see pp. 33-39 of SAR Handbook, Vol. 1] prior to any further comment on this matter, as I believe you will find a complete read of both documents enlightening and informative, if not at odds with your recent comments in the Fall issue of "The SAR Magazine". The SFSAR will continue to make further challenge to bring our organization back into compliance with the 1905 Act of Congress incorporating the NSSAR and with George Washington's "Farewell Address" as our founders originally intended irregardless of current IRS regulations or interpretations of same.

The matter at hand likely explains why there is a bronze plaque in SF City Hall located at the main entrance containing excerpts from George Washington's "Farewell Address" [see Washington's Injunctions] placed by CASSAR in 1929 next to one of Abraham Lincoln.

I am somewhat perplexed as to why the lengthy discourse on this subject in the national magazine occurs under the heading of the California Society, as I had related to me by several people in several different chapters that the matter had been discussed without much objection from the local chapters in attendance at recent CASSAR Managers Meetings. It would seem the issue of our apolitical status is a matter of certain ego's invested in an agenda which would be stifled if our apolitical status is enforced. This is exactly the situation Congress and our founders intended to avoid by adhering to the constraints set forth in our articles of incorporation.

I have never thought the State Society section in the quarterly NSSAR magazine the proper place in which to raise these issues. To my knowledge it never has been used for that purpose. Your argument in extension took all the space in the California section at the expense of the national organization and with omission of current news of all the other California Chapters in the last edition. Having taken the entire California section, the Sacramento Chapter would appear to speak on behalf of CASSAR. Here I would have to cry foul to the editor. This section of the magazine as you well know is intended to report on current chapter activities and not to serve as a bully pulpit arguing the merits of any issue. I believe it would have been more appropriate had you solicited the editor for your comment in the “Letters to the Editor” section or paid for space as a 'broadside' article inside the regular text of the magazine to argue your cause.


Robert L. Wynne, Past Pres., SFSAR