Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (1879)/Phi Delta Theta
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Phi Delta Theta
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This fraternity was founded at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1848, by Robert Morrison, ’49; J. McM. Wilson, ’49; Rev. R. T. Drake, ’50; Col. Andrew W. Rogers, ’51; Andrivan Rodgers, ’51 ; and Prof. Joseph Lindley, ’52. The first outside chapter was established at Indiana University in 1849, although the fact of the fraternity’s existence was kept secret until 1852. The first convention was held at Cincinnati in 1851. At that time a higher degree was instituted among the alumni, but has since fallen into disuse. The fraternity was termed the “Society,” and the chapters “Colleges.” Conventions have been held at intervals of one or two years ever since 1851, and a large number of charters have been granted. The war crippled the fraternity seriously, but since 1865 it has been generally prosperous.
The chapters are named in two ways,—by States and in alphabetical order, with the repeating words deuteron and triteron. The first method is generally used. The chapters are:
- Ohio Alpha, Miami University, 1848 (died 1873).
- Indiana Alpha, Indiana University, 1849.
- Kentucky Alpha, Centre College, 1850.
- Ohio Beta, Miami University, 1852 (died 1856).
- Ohio Gamma, Wittenberg University, 1852 (died 1861).
- Indiana Beta, Wabash College, 1852.
- Tennessee Alpha, Cumberland University, 1852 (died 1861).
- Texas Alpha, Austin College, 1852 (died 1861).
- Kentucky Beta, Kentucky Military Institute, 1854 (died 1857).
- Wisconsin Alpha, Wisconsin University, 1857 (died 1862).
- Wisconsin Beta, Lawrence University, 1859 (died 1867).
- Indiana Gamma, Entler University, 1859.
- Illinois Alpha, Northwestern University, 1859 (died 1862).
- Ohio Delta, Ohio Wesleyan University, 1860 (died 1877).
- Indiana Delta, Franklin College, 1860.
- Michigan Alpha, Michigan University, 1864.
- Illinois Beta, Chicago University, 1865 (died 1872).
- Indiana Epsilon, Hanover College, 1865.
- Indiana Zeta, Indiana Normal School, 1868 (died 1872).
- Indiana Eta, Asbury University, 1868.
- Ohio Epsilon, Ohio University, 1869.
- Virginia Alpha, Roanoke College, 1869.
- Missouri Alpha, Missouri University, 1870.
- Illinois Gamma, JHollmouth Collegc, 1871 (died 1878).
- Illinois Delta, Knox College, 1871 (died 1879).
- Iowa Alpha, Iowa Wesleyan University, 1871.
- Georgia Alpha, Oglethorpe University, 1871 (died 1873).
- Georgia Beta, Georgia University, 1871.
- Georgia Gamma, Emory College, 1871.
- Georgia Delta, Mercer University, 1871.
- New York Alpha, Cornell University, 1872 (died 1873).
- Ohio Zeta, Wooster University, 1872.
- California Alpha, California Uversity, 1873 (died 1877).
- Pennsylvania Alpha, Lafayette College, 1873.
- Michigan Beta, Michigan Agricultural College, 1873.
- Virginia Beta, Virginia University, 1873.
- Virginia Gamma, Randolph Macon College, 1871.
- Ohio Eta, Buchtel College, 1875.
- Kentucky Gamma, Georgetown College, 1875 (died 1876).
- Nebraska Alpha, Neorilska University, 1875 (suspended 1877).
- Pennsylvania Beta, Pennsylvania College, 1875.
- Virginia Delta, Richmond College, 1875.
- Tennessee Beta, Vanderbilt 1miversity, 1876.
- Pennsylvania Gammn, Washington-Jefferson College, 1876.
- Missouri Beta, Central College, 1876.
- Pennsylvania Delta, Lehigh University, 1876 (died 1877).
- Mississippi Alpha, Mississippi University, 1877.
- Alabama Alpha, -- --,1877.
- Virginia Epsilon, Virginia Military Institute, 1878.
- Texas Beta, Trinity University, 1878.
- North Carolina Alpha, Trinity College, 1878.
- Illinois Epsilon, Illinois Wesleyan University, 187S.
- Alabama Beta, Alabama Agricu1tural College, 1878.
- South Carolina Alpha, Wofford College, 1879.
- Pennsylvania Epsilon, Allegheny College., 1879.
The chapter at Miami was the Grand Chapter until the outbreak of the War. The Grand Chapter was successively at Indiana Alpha, Kentucky Alpha, Ohio Alpha, and finally Pennsylvania Alpha. The Ohio Alpha became so large that, in 1852, a second chapter Was instituted in the same college. It was affiliated with the Alpha four years later. Ohio Gamma lasted for a very short time. Indiana Beta was sub rosa for a number of years. The Tennessee Alpha was never well organized, and its records were lost during the war. The civil War seriously affected colleges in the West, as it drew away many professors and students, and a large majority of the existing chapters became extinct in 1861. Texas Alpha, Wisconsin Alpha, Illinois Alpha, and Ohio Delta were among the number. Wisconsin Beta and Kentucky Beta were killed by the faculties of their respective colleges. Ohio Delta died, and was revived in 1871, but returned the charter in 1877. Indiana Delta suspended in 1861, and was revived in 1869, and is now prosperous. Michigan Alpha was established in 1864, but died from a lack of energy. It was revived in 1878. Illinois Beta prospered until 1871, When some of its members having joined the D. K. E.’s, the rest became discouraged and let the chapter die. Indiana Zeta surrendered its charter in 1872. Indiana Eta has met with serious reverses, but is now in a good condition. Virginia Alpha is the mother of all the Virginia Chapters, and is doing well. Missouri Alpha is prosperous, and has built a chapter house. Illinois Gamma and Delta have both met the opposition of the college faculties, and are nearly extinct. In 1871 chapters were placed in the four principal colleges of Georgia, and are now prosperous, except the Alpha, which died with the university. The New York Alpha was organized at Cornell in 1872, but a lack of harmony caused its death in 1876. Ohio Zeta, at the time when Alpha suspended, in 1873, was made the Grand Chapter, which position it held until 1878. California Alpha was killed in 1877 by a series of reverses, and a number of its members bave joined the other fraternities represented at the university. Kentucky Gamma was killed by the faculty. Nebraska Alpha having no opposition has died from lack of interest. Tennessee Beta, Missouri Beta, and Alabama Alpha are sub rosa. Pennsylvania Delta died soon after its foundation from internal dissensions. The last five or six chapters have been established by correspondence. Until 1876 the government of rhe fraternity was similar to tbat of the United States. A Grand Chapter in each State had control of the others that State, and all were subject to the National Grand Chapter. At the time mentioned the authority of the State Grand Chapters was revoked, and an effort at centralization made by placing all the power in the hands of the National Grand Chapter and an executive committee of three. The fraternity holds biennial conventions, during the session of Which the executive authority is delegated to it. All general expenses for correspondence, printing, traveling, etc., are met by pro rata assessments levied on the active members.
Among the many eminent names upon Phi Delta Theta’s roll we might mention Hon. George A. Bickwell, M.C.; Hon. J. S. C. Blackburn, M.C.; Hon. S. E. Perkins, of the Supreme Court of Indiana; Hon. Wm. Vilas, Supreme Court of Wisconsin; ex-President Read, of Missouri University; Dr. A. P. Stuart, President of Mississippi University; J. Y. Foster, United States Minister to Mexico; John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, and John T. Crittenden, ex-United States Attorney-General.
The fraternity publish a monthly paper, called “The Scroll,” in which matters of interest to the chapters and the fraternity at large are presented. The badge is a shield-shaped plate of gold, on which is inlaid a scroll bearing the letters “ΦΔΘ.” Above the scroll is an eye, while the edges of the shield are ornamented with jewels or chased. As a guard-pin a dagger is used, bearing three stones in the hilt. The colors of Phi Delta Theta are blue and white. The total membership to date is about 2600. Alumni chapters have been established at Franklin, Indiana, Indianapolis, and Richmond, Virginia, and others are being, organized. A State association was formed in Indiana in 1879.
A catalogue was issued in 1878, but is very imperfect, and a second and more complete edition is being prepared. Song-books and several pieces of instrumental music have been published. During the early days of the society the fraternity was in a measure a confederation, and the chapters had separate constitutions, but, as stated above, the government is now strongly centralized.