Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (1879)/Theta Delta Chi

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This fraternity was founded at Union College, in 1847, having been preceded by Kappa Alpha, Sigma Phi, Delta Phi, Psi Upsilon, and Chi Psi. The time was favorable, fraternities were starting into being everywhere, and the opposition to the societies of this character had died out at the best colleges. Union College was then at the height of its prosperity, and the reputation of President Nott and the faculty had drawn students from all quarters of the country. The class in which Theta Delta Chi originated, that of 1849, graduated 140 men, and was the largest which had yet left the college. The fraternity originated from the mutual association and common literary tastes of its seven founders, and having once received an impetus it spread and grew as naturally as its rivals. Theodore B. Young, ’49, who entered into business in Schenectady; Wm. G. Aiken, a New York farmer’s son, who fell a victim to the cholera in Chicago; Wm. Hyslop, of Rhinebeck, N. Y., a New York physician who died while at the post of duty; Sam. F. Wile, who died after braving many hardships as a Ncw Zealand missionary; Abel Beach, an eminent resident of Iowa City; and Andrew H. Green, of Syracuse, were the original members. The last-named gentleman was the author of the constitution which, with a few slight changes, is now in use. The different branches of the fraternity have been termed “charges,” a term synonymous with the word chapters used by the other fraternities. As established they have generally been named in alphabetical order, and are as follows:

  1. Alpha, Union College, 1847 (died 1869).
  2. Beta, Ballston Law School, 1849 (died 1850).
  3. Beta, Cornell University, 1870.
  4. Gamma, Vermont University, 1852 (died 1857).
  5. Delta, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1853 (died 1877).
  6. Epsilon, William and Mary College, 1853 (died 1872).
  7. Zeta, Brown University, 1853 (died 1877).
  8. Eta, Bowdoin College, 1854.
  9. Theta, Kenyon College, 1854.
  10. Iota, Harvard College, 1855 (died 1860).
  11. Kappa, Tufts College, 1856.
  12. Lambda, New York Graduate Charge, 1856 (died 1857).
  13. Lambda, Boston University, 1876.
  14. Mu, North Carolina University, 1857 (died 1862).
  15. Nu, Virginia University, 1857 (died 1877).
  16. Xi, Hobart College, 1857.
  17. Omicron, Wesleyan University, 1857 (died 1863).
  18. Omicron (deuteron), Dartmouth College, 1869.
  19. Pi, Washington-Jefferson College, 1858 (died 1872).
  20. Rho, Washington-Lee University, 1869 (died 1874).
  21. Sigma, Dickinson Col1ege, 1861 (died 1876).
  22. Tau, Princeton College, 1863 (died 1867).
  23. Upsilon, Lewisburg University, 1866 (died 1873).
  24. Phi, Lafayette College, 1866.
  25. Chi, Rochester University, 1866 (died 1879).
  26. Psi, Hamilton College, 1867.
  27. —, Wabash College, 1879.

The Alpha Charge, after a long and successful career, died in the class of ’69 from lack of suitable material from which to draw members. The charter of the Beta was withdrawn in 1850 and the members were affiliated to the Alpha. The Delta was broken up by disagreements in regard to the mode of club life adopted by its members. The Epsilon seemed assured of a prosperous career, but the establishment of powerful rivals and the decadence of the college caused its death. The Zeta was established upon the ruins of the Kappa Chapter of Delta Psi, and had a long and prosperous lease of life. The Theta died in 1864, but was re-estabIished in 1870. Curiously enough, the Psi of Chi Phi exactly filled up the interval, and died on its re-establishment. The first Lambda was the governing charge of the fraternhy during its existence. At its withdrawal its members were affiliated to the Delta. The Mu and Nu Charges were both killed by the war, but the latter was revived when the university reopened. The charter of the Pi was withdrawn; the charge was a weak one, and the majority of the members in the classes of ’71 and ’72 were from Bethany College, in West Virginia. A charter was granted to the College of South Carolina in 1859 under the name of Rho, but the charge was never organized. The Sigma died from lack of good material, while the Tau though flourishing for a time, shared the general fate of the Princeton Chapters. The Cornell Charge was first named Alpha Delta, but its name was changed to Beta in 1871. The last charge was formed from the Psi Chapter of Delta Tau Delta. The fraternity is now prosperous as a whole. The government of the fraternity is conducted through a Grand Lodge composed of one graduate and two undergraduate members, and is remarkably efficient and successful. Various systems have been adopted, but all previous ones have been found wanting. For many years the Alpha, or parent chapter, held the reins of authority; then the Graduate Charge took them up until the present system was inaugurated.

Annual conventions of the fraternity are held, generally under the auspices of some one chapter. At these conventions an oration is delivered, a poem is read, and generally some essay on the society’s history or progress is presented. The catalogue of members is issued at regular intervals, and the last one, published in New York in 1876, is ably edited and beautifully printed. A series of chapter cuts designed by Mr. Franklin Burdge, of New York, is a noticeable feature, and one which will no doubt be imitated by other publishing committees.

In addition to the catalogue, song-books and reprints of the convention’s orations and poems have been published with more or less irregularity. The total number of members to date is near 1800, among which are Allen C. Beach, late Lieutenant-Governor of New York.; Professor J. R. French, of Syracuse University; Brigadier General Wm. K. Logie; Alex. L. Holly, the steel expert; Bishop J. H. Wingfield, of North Carolina; John Goforth, of Philadelphia; Wm. W. Thomas, the Maine politician; and President Capen, of Tufts College.

The badge is a shield of gold, displaying the letters “ΘΔΧ,” surmounted by two embossed five-pointed stars; oelow are two arrows crossed. The badge is worn either jewel1ed or plain. A monogram badge, though sometimes used, is unauthorized. The fraternity’s colors are black, white, and blue.