The Grand Section of the Cadets of Temperance of the State of New York was founded around 1846 as a total abstinence society and as the youth wing of the Sons of Temperance organization, which did not admit minors. The Cadets of Temperance accepted members between 12 and 18 years of age, in an effort to instill temperance values in children before they could acquire a taste for alcohol. For its members, the organization prohibited the use of tobacco and served as a mutual aid society in the case of illness.
The Grand Section consisted of numerous local sections named for various animals. One such organization was the Cygnet Section (No. 15), instituted at Rochester, New York, on August 27, 1847. Another western New York branch, the Eagle Section (No. 97), was instituted on March 11, 1848, in Rush, New York. The groups had many practices in common, including charging monthly dues of 10-15 cents and requiring parental consent to join. Members met weekly and engaged in many fraternal rituals, such as the wearing of ceremonial clothing and the use of passwords, songs, recitations, and elaborate titles. Offices within the Cadets included the grand worthy archon (G.W.A.), past worthy archon (P.W.A), grand worthy patron (G.W.P.), vice archon (V.A.), usher, and watchman. Similar titles were also used by the Sons of Temperance.