Chi Phi

Chi Phi
Chi Phi
The Crest of the Chi Phi Fraternity
Founded December, 24 1824 (age 186)
Princeton University
Type Social
Scope International
Motto Truth, Honor, Personal Integrity and Liberty
Colors Scarlet and Blue
Symbol Chakett
Flower None
Chapters 54 across nation, 6 colonies
Headquarters Suwanee, Georgia 30024, USA

The Chi Phi (ΧΦ) Fraternity is an American College Social Fraternity that was established as the result of the merger of three separate organizations that were each known as Chi Phi. The oldest active organization that took part in the union was originally founded in 1824 at Princeton.[1][2] Today, Chi Phi has over 43,500 living alumni members from over 100 active and inactive Chapters.


Early history

Chi Phi Society

“On Christmas Eve in 1824, an association was formed to promote the circulation of correct opinions upon Religion, Morals, Education & excluding Sectarian Theology and party Politics. It was the duty of each member to publish at least once a month in any convenient way some article designed to answer the above object. When at length it disbanded, its religious feature was absorbed and perpetuated by what is known now as the “Philadelphian Society” organized in February, 1825, and said to be an offspring of the Nassau Hall Tract Society. The old Chi Phi constitution was discovered in 1854 by some undergraduates who emphasizing the social and disregarding the religious purpose reorganized the society into the modern Greek letter fraternity of the same initials. The majority of the religious societies founded in Princeton were less general in their scope but more efficient in their work than the old Chi Phi.” – from “Princeton” by Varnum Lansing Collins 1914

Chi Phi Society Founders

The Princeton Order

Records of the original Chi Phi Society were discovered in 1854 by John Maclean, Jr. of the class of 1858. Maclean found the records in his uncle's (also named John Maclean, Jr.) paperwork, who happened to be president of the college at that time. Maclean joined with students Charles Smith DeGraw and Gustavus W. Mayer to form a new Chi Phi Fraternity that was based on some records of the original society but also with many characteristics that differed from the original society. While the Chi Phi Fraternity of today was actually founded in 1854, the members place great emphasis on the 1824 date because of many aspects that were carried over from the original records discovered in 1854. The names of the founders of the original society of 1824 were not even known to the 1854 founders; however, they were later discovered and published in the book "Princeton" by V.L. Collins in 1914. The Chi Phi Fraternity founded by Maclean was also short-lived. The group existed sub rosa only until 1859 when it was abandoned completely. However, before the Princeton chapter died off, it was able to successfully establish a second chapter at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1854. The chapter at Franklin and Marshall in turn planted a chapter at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.[1][2][3]

The Southern Order

The second Chi Phi Fraternity was founded at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on August 21, 1858 by five undergraduate students. The Chi Phi Fraternity of the South was also the second exclusively southern Fraternity established prior to the Civil War and was very successful in planting six chapters prior to the outbreak of hostilities and nine afterwards, but prior to the merger with the Northern Order. All but the UNC chapter suspended operations as a result of the Civil War.[4]

Southern Order Founders

  • Rev. Augustus Moore Flythe - Class of 1859 - Episcopal Deacon and Missionary, New Bern, North Carolina
  • Capt. Thomas Capehart, CSA - Class of 1861 - Beginning in April 1861, served as a Lieutenant in the Bethel Regiment, 1st North Carolina Volunteers (Infantry), commanded by Col. D.H. Hill, afterwards a General in the CSA. In early 1862, he then became the Captain of Co. C, 3rd Battalion North Carolina Light Artillery. After the Seven Days fight, this organization disbanded on account of scarcity of horses and equipment and he was commissioned as a Captain in Wynn's Cavalry (15th) Battalion, organized for State defense remaining as such until the surrender. He lived the remainder of his life as a wealthy planter in Kittrell, N.C., where the home he built in 1867 still stands and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • John Calhoun Tucker - Class of 1861 - Served as Private in Co. I (Burt Avengers raised in Hinds Co.), 39th Mississippi Infantry and died in service on December 28, 1862 near Port Hudson, Louisiana at the age of 23. At the surrender, only seven of his company were reported in service.
  • William Harrison Greene - Class of 1862 - Served as a Lieutenant in Co. G, 5th Alabama Infantry Regiment assigned to the Rodes Brigade and the Army of Northern Virginia throughout the War. He was wounded in the leg at Sharpsburg, Antietam, Maryland in September 1862. He later became a gentleman farmer at Wayside, Mississippi.
  • Dr. Fletcher Terry Seymour, M.D. - Class of 1862 - Served as a Private in the 6th Tennessee Infantry in 1862. He was honorably discharged on account of ill health and became a merchant and planter at Eurekaton, Tenn.

Secret Order of Chi Phi

On November 14, 1860, the third independent fraternity to be named Chi Phi was founded at Hobart College, Geneva by twelve founders whom took the initiatory oath and received a badge. The twelve men later became known throughout Chi Phi as the "Twelve Apostles". The fraternity was officially known as the "Secret Order of Chi Phi" and the first chapter would be called the Upsilon chapter. The Secret Order of Chi Phi at Hobart planted four additional chapters, and then in 1865, negotiations began regarding a merger with the Princeton Order. Negotiations were completed on May 29, 1867, and chapters from both groups united as the Northern Order.[4]

Secret Order Founders

  • John William Jones - Class of 1861
  • Alexander Johnson Beach, Esq. - Class of 1862 - Served as Captain, Co. E, 13th New York Artillery
  • Amos Brunson - Class of 1862 - Served as a Second Lieutenant, Co. B, 85th New York Volunteer Infantry (Plymouth Pilgrims)
  • Dr. George Gallagher Hopkins, M.D. - Class of 1862 - Served as Major, 5th Rhode Island Infantry
  • Edward Storey Lawson, Esq. - Class of 1862
  • Samuel Watkins Tuttle, Esq. - Class of 1862
  • David Saxton Hall, Jr. - Class of 1863
  • Dr. David Post Jackson, M.D. - Class of 1863
  • Harvey Nixon Loomis - Class of 1863 - Later elected as the first Grand Alpha of the Fraternity.
  • William Henry Shepard, Esq. - Class of 1863
  • William Sutphen, Esq. - Class of 1863 - Chairman of the Committee of Union and the first Grand Gamma
  • Frank Bradshaw Wilson - Class of 1864

Merger of the North and South

Following the end of the Civil War, the Northern and Southern orders discovered each other through John Shepard of the North Carolina chapter of the Southern Order. The orders from the North and South began a negotiation that concluded with a meeting at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC on March 27, 1874 that resulted in a united organization officially known as the Chi Phi Fraternity. At the March meeting, three members from the Northern Order and three members from the Southern Order adopted a constitution and by-laws and established a date for the first convention, which was held in Washington, DC on July 23, 1874.[5][6][7]

Growth and Development

In June 1867, due to the disruption of the American Civil War, a group of Southern students led by Peter Mitchell Wilson, A-A '69 and other students from the States of Louisiana and South Carolina, chartered the Theta Chapter of the Southern Order at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland. This Chapter is thought to be the first international and only European Chapter of an American College Fraternity.

Although Georgia Tech grads hate to admit they owe anything to Georgia grads (see Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate), Nathaniel E. Harris and Henry W. Grady, two Chi Phis from the University of Georgia, are widely credited with developing the public and legislative support that resulted in the formation of the Georgia Institute of Technology. As a result of his efforts, Nathaniel E. Harris was elected and served as the President of Georgia Tech's Board of Trustees from 1886 until his death in 1929.

Except for a brief period in 1911, three Chi Phis (Joseph Mackey Brown, John Marshall Slaton and Nathaniel E. Harris) held the office of Governor in the State of Georgia from 1909 to 1917. They didn't always see eye-to-eye, however; Brown was vehemently opposed to Slaton's pardon of Leo Frank in 1915 and since his death in 1932, Brown has often been implicated as a conspirator in Frank's lynching. During the same period, another Chi Phi, Hiram W. Johnson served as Governor of California and was later elected to five terms as a U.S. Senator.

Chi Phi's conservative expansion philosophy that only the old, well established schools were suitable for a Chapter, which was in effect for some sixty years (1892 to 1954), led to the denial of a petition for a charter by a group of students at the University of Richmond in 1901. This group, led by Chi Phi Brother Carter Ashton Jenkens, Delta '03, went on to found the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. During the subsequent fifty-three year period, Sigma Phi Epsilon chartered over 140 Chapters, while Chi Phi only chartered 14.

Stevie Ray Vaughan's music video for the song "When the House is a Rockin'" (Don't Bother Knockin') was filmed almost entirely at the Omega chapter house at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

On June 25, 2011, the Chi Phi Educational Trust announced that it is launching the public phase of a $10M Changing Lives Capital Campaign for Chi Phi, to date the Campaign has raised $6.1M refer to for more information.

Active, Inactive and Dormant Chapters

Distinguished Alumni of Chi Phi (Appel et al. 1993)

See also


  1. ^ a b Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities 1920. p 116
  2. ^ a b Greek Letter Men of Albany. 1901. p 15.
  3. ^ Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities. 1912. p 94
  4. ^ a b Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities 1920. p 117
  5. ^ Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities 1920. p 117-118
  6. ^ Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities. 1912. p 96
  7. ^ Greek Letter Men of Albany. 1901. p 224
  • Appel, Dr. Theodore B. et al. 1993 The Chronicles of Chi Phi, Chi Phi Educational Trust
  • Baird, William, ed 1915 Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities
  • Council of the Chi Phi Fraternity 1927 Biennial Catalogue of The Chi Phi Fraternity 1927, Lancaster Press, Inc.

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