Founding of the Fraternity


In the fall of 1848, the only two societies (as fraternities were then known) at Miami University, Alpha Delta Phi and Beta Theta Pi, were suspended due to some members’ participation in the Snowball Rebellion. As a result, as the Christmas holidays approached, the atmosphere on the Miami University campus was gloomy and uncertain.

Robert Morrison, a pre-theology major from central Ohio, suggested to a close friend and classmate, John McMillan Wilson, that they consider putting together a new collegiate brotherhood.

From this elemental beginning, Phi Delta Theta evolved into the positive international force for good it has become over the past 175 years.

Morrison and Wilson, thinking in terms of providing a permanent base with growth potential, sought out underclassmen they visualized as joining them. They approached men they knew who would be open to founding a new society.

Thus juniors John W. Lindley and Robert T. Drake were approached, as were sophomores Ardivan W. Rodgers and Andrew W. Rogers, all of whom accepted the concept.

All six men were among the depleted ranks of Miami students who did not attempt to go home to join their families for the Christmas holidays because of the difficult travel conditions and bitter winter weather.

The need for close companionship had to be evident when the six met the night of December 26, 1848, in Wilson’s second-floor room in North Hall, directly above Morrison’s room. Wilson passed around a paper, asking each man to sign, stating they would keep the discussions of that meeting a secret. According to Morrison in his “Memorabilia” papers, “From that hour, we six were a Band of Brothers, and then began the life and work of the ΦΔΘ Fraternity.”

They met two nights later in the same room to consider an appropriate motto and constitution. Morrison and Wilson put the consensus ideas into terminology that became The Bond that every initiate has signed to become a member of the Fraternity.

On December 30, the ‘Immortal Six’ put their signatures to The Bond in Wilson’s room. Their names remain a vital part of the rituals that continue today in every chapter room across the United States and Canada.