First Expelled Members1851
The Fraternity has always been a place of both high standard and accountability. Early in the organization’s inception, action needed to be taken against initiated members of the Ohio Alpha Chapter.
The first man expelled from Phi Delta Theta was P. McC. Morgan, ’53. He was initiated on January 15, 1851, and, during the spring of that year, was expelled for violating The Bond. However, the first serious trouble of Ohio Alpha occurred in the fall of 1851, when the Society was nearly three years old. It resulted in the expulsion of J. H. Childs, ’52, J. G. McNutt, ’53, and the withdrawal of Harmar Denny, ’52, S. R. Matthews, ’52, and A. C. Kemper, ’53. The offense of which Childs and McNutt were guilty was repeated intoxication.
The opening of the Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Dayton railroad took place in October of 1851. The community ceremonies to greet the first train in Hamilton, fourteen miles from the Miami campus, attracted widespread attention. Several Miami students made the journey to Hamilton to be part of the celebration, and two Phis became overly involved. Obviously intoxicated, they had to be helped into the stagecoach that brought them back to Oxford.
Reprimanded at the next chapter meeting, the pair expressed regret, apologized for their actions, and promised to reform. The Phis of the time were almost all members of the Young Men’s Temperance Association in town. After one of these meetings, the same pair became publicly intoxicated again and were brought to trial. Benjamin Harrison presided at the trial, where the offenders were expelled unanimously. Nonetheless, three other members, close friends of the miscreants, resigned. Thus, the Fraternity lost five of its twelve members, but the seven who remained pledged to recruit new members and keep the Fraternity ideals intact.
Over the years, numerous crises would develop, but this one could easily have derailed the group. As described in Havighurst’s history, “Behind the events of that season lay a fundamental question: what kind of a society was Phi Delta Theta to be, and would The Bond endure as the basic law of the Fraternity?” Interestingly, the two members who were expelled and two of their sympathizers who resigned in protest became charter members of the Delta Kappa Epsilon chapter, chartered at Miami on March 8, 1852. Later, a split in that fraternity’s ranks resulted in Sigma Chi’s founding in 1855, the third member of the Miami Triad.