Dec 30, 2023

Celebrating 175 Years of Phi Delta Theta 

Brotherhood The Scroll News
Celebrating 175 Years of Phi Delta Theta 

By J. David Almacy, Widener ’92

As we gather with family and friends this holiday season before the new year, Phi Delta Theta has another reason to celebrate. This year marks 175 years since the founding of our Fraternity, and just days ago, we celebrated this milestone. 

Our founders met on December 26, 1848, in Old North Dorm on the campus of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, to discuss the creation of our great Fraternity. However, many may forget to note that it was on this day, December 30, that The Bond was finalized. The Immortal Six affixed their signatures to that timeless document, setting a remarkable tradition into motion that every Phi has carried forward since. 

Today marks the official promise that Robert Morrison, John McMillan Wilson, John Wolfle Lindley, Robert Thompson Drake, Ardivan Walker Rodgers, and Andrew Watts Rogers sought to create by forming an organization of like-minded men guided by three Cardinal Principles: Friendship, Sound Learning, and Rectitude.

Though the founders felt that the basis of their union was sound, there was some question in the early days about whether it would endure and expand. The second chapter was founded almost a year later, on October 11, 1849, at Indiana University. Seven members attended the first convention in 1851 in Cincinnati, Ohio. In just ten years, Phi Delta Theta had expanded to twelve campuses in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Texas, Wisconsin, and Illinois. 

Despite the challenges our Fraternity faced during the US Civil War, when Phi Delta Theta was left with only four active chapters, our brothers persisted with fortitude. Between 1870 and 1890, our brotherhood saw rapid and significant growth due in large part to the efforts of Walter B. Palmer and George Banta. Unofficially termed as the Fraternity’s Second Founders, these two men created a more formal structure to organize and govern the Fraternity, laying the foundation for how we operate today.

Guided by The Bond and our Cardinal Principles, Palmer and Banta paved the way for the Fraternity to evolve in the twentieth century and beyond. That approach has enabled Phi Delta Theta to grow in size, strength, and stature, earning our place as the premier leadership society throughout the United States and Canada. Phi Delta Theta became an international fraternity when our first Canadian chapter, Quebec Alpha, was established at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec in April 1902.

Fast forward to this biennium, where we continue to honor our founders’ legacy. To date, over 288,000 Phis have signed The Bondthe exact same document that has remained unchanged since our founders adopted it 175 years ago. And in our 175th year, we plan to install our 300th chapter.

Phi Delta Theta boasts many prominent members from campuses across North America throughout the years, including a Phi who walked on the moon, a US president and other elected leaders, titans of industry, athletes, and notable entertainers. However, I believe the special bond of brotherhood that we all share and the positive impact we make on the world possesses the most value.

On that cold, gloomy winter day in late December 1848, it is uncertain that our founders could fully envision what Phi Delta Theta would become. However, their vision successfully provided a solid foundation to sustain our organization, guide us as we progress, and, most importantly, strengthen our bonds of brotherhood through the precepts outlined in The Bond

Looking ahead as we enter into a new year, I challenge all of us to reflect upon our contributions to the Fraternity and our communities. We must remember that we have inherited a special gift from all those Phis who have come before us over the past 175 years. Our duty is to protect that legacy, honor and uphold the commitments we made, and continually strive to become the greatest versions of ourselves.

Proud to be a Phi!

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