What are the State and Territory Societies?
State and Territory societies are civic and social organizations that are unique to the national capital region. With roots that trace back to the founding of the Illinois State Society in 1854, state societies evolved over the next 148 years as non-partisan booster clubs that celebrate the history, culture, colleges, traditions, sports teams, humor, politics and commerce of America’s 50 states. The societies provide expatriates of states who live in the greater-Washington area with a special non-partisan venue that enables them to share in a wide variety of receptions, dinners, picnics, ceremonies and sporting events.
What makes state and territory society programs unique is that they bring together Members of Congress, Capitol Hill staff, journalists, students, government affairs professionals, military staff, diplomats, attorneys, trade-association staff, and business leaders who share their home-state heritage in a relaxed and non-partisan atmosphere of goodwill and good fun.In this wonderful and friendly environment that is forged by the emotional bonds of home-town loyalties, state societies fulfill a necessary goodwill mission in the civic and political life of Washington that cannot be filled by any other institution.
What is the value of a Minnesota Walleye Pike Dinner, or a Hawaiian Luau, a Louisiana Crawfish Boil, a California Oscar Night, a Texas Black Tie and Boots Ball, or an Illinois St. Patrick’s Day Party? The value lies in offering a place where partisan tensions can melt away in memories shared and enthusiasm rekindled for the Chicago Cubs of 1969, the Detroit Tigers of 1945, the Green Bay Packer Super Bowl winners this year, eating Maryland crab cakes last Saturday, or singing Florida college songs tonight.
In the last 150 years, hundreds of Members of Congress have served as state society members and officers. Abraham Lincoln was reportedly a member of the Illinois State Society in 1854. In recent years some examples include former Vice President Al Gore, who was a member of the Tennessee State Society, Vice President Dick Cheney has been a member of the Wyoming State Society, and House Speaker Dennis Hastert who was President of the Illinois State Society. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was President of the Texas State Society in 2001, and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is a former President of the California State Society.
In addition to hundreds of events each year, every four years many state societies sponsor major receptions, lunches, and Galas for home-state visitors to the Presidential Inaugurations.