William Fosdick Chamberlin.

The history of Phi gamma delta online

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The following resolutions were promulgated at this
time by the board of trustees of Jefferson Academy:

1. Be it resolved. That the permanent care of the
M'Millan "Log Cabin," wherein Jefferson College had
its origin, is hereby vested \n the Board of Archons of
the fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta upon the express
agreement that said fraternity, through its governing
board, shall now, and hereafter, preserve said "Log Cabin"
for the exhibition of mementoes of Jefferson College, sub-
ject to ordinary wear and tear, unavoidable casualties
and destruction, and shall be permitted to place on said
"Log Cabin" a suitable memorial to the founders of said
fraternity, approved by the governing board of said
fraternity.

2. Be it further resolved. That permission is hereby
given to remove said "Log Cabin" from its present site to
a point or place of location on the campus at Canonsburg,
Pennsylvania.

3. Be it further resolved. That in case the aforesaid
fraternity shall fail to take proper care of the said "Log
Cabin," as provided for in the first resolution of this agree-
ment, for a period of three current years, that the care
shall revert to the directors of Jefferson Academy.

That there shall be access to said cabin at all times, by
the principal of Jefferson Academy and its janitor, who,
together with the representative of the Phi Gamma Delta
society, shall have a key thereto; that said principal on
behalf of said academy and the friends of Jefferson Col-
lege as well as said fraternity shall have the privilege of
placing mementoes of said college therein.

That a copy of these resolutions be certified to the Phi
Gamma Delta society as the contract between the parties
hereto.

That the location of the cabin be delegated to the prop-



32 HISTORY OF PHI GAMMA DELTA

erty committee of the academy and the representative of
the Phi Gamma Delta society.

Approved this September 3d, 1907.

N. W. Shaefer,
President of Board of Jefferson Academy.
J. H. H. Cook,

Secretary.

On the 7th of February, 1908, exercises were held in
the Central Presbyterian church, Canonsburg, under
the direction of the national officers of Phi Gamma
Delta. The president of the board of trustees of Jeff-
erson Academy, Noah W. Shaefer, opened the meeting
with an address in commemoration of Dr. M'Millan's
pioneer educational work, following which, in behalf of
the Jefferson trustees, he turned over to Phi Gamma
Delta the old cabin to have and to preserve for all time.
Thomas L. Pogue, national secretary, accepted the
charge on behalf of the fraternity, promising that it
should be sacredly kept.

The Rev. W. F. Brown, D. D., wrote me at the time
expressing his regret and disappointment that he could
not be present at the exercises; the rest of his letter
follows :

Set it in such a firm way on the classic hill of Canons-
burg that it can never be hid. Let the watchmen of the
town guard it against all hurt and desecration. Let the
artist put it on the glowing canvas. Let the historian
gather up its records and tell its story, of which we may
be proud. Let this building proclaim to posterity the
labors, the sacrifices, the faith, the ideas, and the burning
hopes of the fathers whose heroic actions made our ad-
vanced age a possibility.

Well may we today be proud of this crude building pre-
sided over by the devoted Christian man, Dr. M'Millan,
which institution has been the center from which have




THI8 LOG CABIN WAS BUILT IN 1780
THE REV. JOHN MCMILLAN D.D.

AMD WAS THE BEGINNIMC OF

JEFFERSON COLLEGE.

IT WAS DONATED BY HIS DESCENDANTS
THE FOLTON BROTHERS
TO
THE REV. WILLIAM F BROWN DD..
^^ WHO REMOVED IT TO THIS CAMPUS IN 1895
W AND COMMITTED IT TO THE GUARDIANSHIP OF
THE TRUSTEES OF JEFFERSON ACADEMY
BY ACTION OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES 1907
ITS PERPETUAL CARE WAS ENTRUSTED TO
THE COLLEGE FRATERNITY OF

PHI GAMWA DELTA

FOUNDED IN JEFFERSON COLLEGE IN 1848
FOB THE HONOR Of THE FOUNDERS OF THE FRATERNITY
DANIEL WEBSTER CROFTS SAMUEL BEATTY WILSON

■ .' : -it ' * ' :

JAMES ELLJQTT HAAMAM FLETCHER



ELLIS 9JiM|«,



JOHN TM'CARTY.



■ ;:!^ ii i:^.^^iMJtiMM£Lia i l: £ i ! S jax LAim l l



Memorial Tablet



THE LOG CABIN 33

radiated hundreds of intellectual lights seen in the pulpit,
the forum and on the platform, and which have shown
forth as brilliant rays of truth and reflected honor upon
their humble Alma Mater. I am filled, I trust, with
a pardonable pride that my ancestors wrought in this old
and glorious relic of the past, and therefore I greatly re-
joiced when I became the recipient of this time-honored
structure, and it was indeed most welcome news to me, as
I know it was to the Jefferson Academy trustees, who
have been so true and faithful to their trust, when your
fraternity, through you, kindly offered to become the
future guardians of the historic relic.

The labors and prayers of my own ancestors, who care-
fully and tenderly nourished the vine planted by Dr.
M'Millan, naturally increase the deep interest which I
now feel as a former Canonsburg boy, as an alumnus of
Jefferson College, as a pastor once occupying the pulpit
in Providence Hall, as a professor and principal of Jeffer-
son Academy, and as a warm friend of education.

Believing that no charter is superior to the faith and
labors of our pious pioneer ancestors, I wish to express
my sincere thanks to you, Mr. Chamberlin, and to your
fraternity for the great interest you have shown in your
desire and efforts that "the old log college" may have a
continued career in future history.

Very sincerely yours,
W. F. Brown.



CHAPTER HI

THE LITERARY SOCIETIES: FRANKLIN AND PHILO

DURING the years preceding the activities of
Phi Gamma Delta, little is known of the rival
literary societies save the dates of their founding,
Philo on the 23rd day of August, 1797, by Rev. John
Watson, Franklin on the 14th day of November,
1797, by Dr. James Carnahan. As the founders had
been members of the societies at Princeton, they no
doubt modelled the constitution, rules, and secret exer-
cises of the Canonsburg societies on the plan of those
at Princeton.

A record of the first years of the Franklin Society
W2LS found in one of the volumes of "College Miscel-
lany" collected and bound by Thomas W. B. Crews.
This pamphlet, published by the Society with J. Tem-
pleton McCarty as chairman, contains an address
delivered at the semi-centennial anniversary, Novem-
ber 14, 1847, by the Rev. W. A. Passavant; and since
the prosperity of the Franklin literary society was
for so many years in the hands of the "Delta Associa-
tion," a short sketch from the data given us by Dr.
Passavant will not be out of order:

In 1790 the M'Millan Latin School was removed
from the log house to a substantial stone building in
Canonsburg. Shortly after the opening of the new
building, a debating society was formed by the stu-
dents, which was a forerunner of two other literary

[34]




Seal of Franklik Literary Society
1848



THE LITERARY SOCIETIES 35

societies, the Franklin and the Philo, which labored
and flourished together until the union of Jefferson
with Washington.

The Franklin Society was founded on the evening of
November 14, 1797, by nine students with the motto of
Scientia, Amicitia et Virtus. The first resolution ever
passed by the society was that "the members be required
to keep its business a profound secret." So fearful
were they of any violation of this that members were
not permitted to read an essay in the academy which
had already been read in the society. Subsequently
when leakages were discovered in certain quarters,
married students were not eligible to membership. Of
the nine members who founded the society, five were
officers — a chairman, clerk, inspector, and two cor-
rectors. The names of these officers continued until
1817 when they were changed to president, vice-presi-
dent, secretary, clerk, and reviewers.

In perusing the annals of the society in the first three
years of its existence, one is impressed with the tone and
character of its decisions on some of the great questions.
In 1798 the question was discussed and decided in the
affirmative, "Would it be politic in the southern states
to abolish negro slavery?"

On moral subjects, some of the decisions at this time
are strangely at variance with the common verdict of
society at the present day. Thus the question "Would
it be advantageous to cease the distillation of rye and
raise more wheat?" was unanimously decided in favor
of rye. Some time after this decision, a similar ques-
tion was discussed — "Is not the use of spirituous
liquors more injurious than beneficial to a country?"
This also was decided in favor of the spirituous liquors.



36 HISTORY OF PHI GAMMA DELTA

A rich vein of humor often ran through the early per-
formances of the society. Thus, for instance, a member
read a dialogue between a spider and a fly. One youth
edified the society with an eloquent essay on "Kissing."
Another graphically described "The Pleasure of Hav-
ing a Clean Pocket Handkerchief." Another read an
essay on "A Description of an Ass," and another feel-
ingly described "The Itch."

If we may judge from the same records, the days of
chivalry were not over. Thus the question, "Is Female
Modesty Natural or Artificial?" was decided by accla-
mation to be natural. The question, "Ought a Man to
Whip his Wife on Any Occasion?" was gallantly decid-
ed in the negative. It is recorded that one Mitchell
gave a description of a beautiful damsel. Donald
wrote on "The Female Sex is the Life of Society."
Chaplain wrote "On the Choice of a Wife." A soli-
tary individual, Caldwell, had the fortitude to stem
the popular current of opinion and chose for the sub-
ject of his essay, "The Horrid Practice of Dancing
with the Girls."

Each member, in turn, furnished candles, brought
water, and kept the door at the meeting of the society.

Fining was always kept alive. Sinclair and Wilson
were fined one cent each for "laughing and talking with-
out permission." Henderson was fined five cents for a
ridiculous composition, and two cents additional "for
frequently changing his seat without permission."
Wallace was fined six cents for holding the poker in his
hand while debating.

The jurisdiction of the society extended over the con-
duct of its members not only while in session but also













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Gregg's Fraxklix Diploma






THE LITERARY SOCIETIES 37

during the intervals. Members were tried for profan-
ity, playing cards, and becoming intoxicated.

During the first five years of its existence, the society
W2LS without a library. On September 10, 1799, it was
moved "that a collection be lifted for the purpose of
purchasing of such a dictionary as may be thought
necessary for the society." This was the beginning of
the Franklin Literary Library, which, at the time of
the founding of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, num-
bered 3,000 volumes, many of the most valuable of
which were taken out of the library by loyal Franklin-
ites and hidden so that they might not find their way to
Washington.

The literary contests between the Franklin and Philo
societies commenced as early as 1799, when a chal-
lenge was given by Franklin to Philo. In the contest of
1809, the question of the debate was "Is the Soul Cre-
ated Immediately at the time of its Infusion into the
Body?" At the contest of 1817, the records report the
appointing of a committee "to build the stage and to
hold the candles and snuff them." This was considered
an honor and such honor was conferred only on mem-
bers of the more advanced classes. The inspectors of
the society were often men of prominence. In January,
1798, James Carnahan, the president of the College of
New Jersey, wrote: "The Franklin Society promises
to exceed our highest expectations. We trust it will be
an honor to the members, a benefit to the academy, and
will extend its happy influence throughout America."

One interesting and unique memento of the Frank-
lin Society is Ellis Bailey Gregg's diploma, the Latin
words of which are still legible:



38 HISTORY OF PHI GAMMA DELTA

FRANKLINIA SOCIETAS LITERARIA

Collegii Jeffersoniensis

Omnibus has literas Iccturis

SALUTEM

Notum sit Ellis B. Gregg, A.B. titulo gradu beneficiis-
que honorarii sodalis hujusce Institutionis placere nobis
decorare. Cuius rei in testimonium, Societatis consultu,
sigillum nostrum commune est affixum. Praesidis, Scri-
baeque nomina subscripta sunt.

Datum Decimo Octavo Die Calendarum Julii
Anno Domini Millesimo Octingentesimo
Quadragesimo Octavo

Praeses

Socii Scriba

The name of John T. McCarty appears as Praeses;
G. I. Young as Scriba. Among the names of the
Socii that follow we have preserved the signatures of
the founders and other members of the "Delta Associa-
tion:" Thomas W. B. Crews, J. Q. Adams Jone»,
B. F. Ray, Albert G. Jenkins, John B. Penington,
J. P. Gilchrist, and James W. Logan. It is manifest
from the proportion of Delta signatures that the found-
ers and their new-made brothers of Phi Gamma Delta
were the real life of the Franklin society.

The seal of the society, a profile of Benjamin Frank-
lin, is well nigh effaced from the yellow original.

In addition to Gregg's diploma, there are now in
the possession of the Fraternity, through the kindness
of J. B. Gregg, of Peoria, Illinois, a nephew of Ellis
Bailey Gregg, two essays or orations of Gregg in
his own handwriting, addressed to "Gentlemen of the
Franklin Literary Society:" one a dissertation on the
1,846 years of the Christian era, dated January i, 1846;



THE LITERARY SOCIETIES 39

the other his last work in the Society on "The Right of
Suffrage."

While some Deltas were members of Philo and some
Betas were members of Franklin, yet from the society
lists preserved by Crews it is evident that Philo was
dominated in the late forties by Beta Theta Pi, just as
Gregg's diploma clearly indicates the preponderance of
Phi Gamma Delta in the Franklin Society.

The general catalogues of both societies for June,
1850, preserved in Volume II of Crews' "College Mis-
cellany," are now in the archives. In the honorary list
of the Franklin Society appear the following celeb-
rities:

Hon. James Buchanan, Hon. Benjamin F. Butler,
Hon. Jefferson Davis, Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, Hon.
W. H. Seward, Hon. Daniel Webster. The number of
honorary members given at this time was 194, regular
members 1,347, present members 108; total 1,649.

Philo could boast as distinguished a list with the
names of Hon. John Quincy Adams, Hon. Henry Clay,
Hon. Thomas Corwin, Hon. Horace Greeley, Hon. An-
drew Jackson, and Hon. Martin Van Buren. The total
number of honorary members in the 1840 catalogue of
Philo was 205, present members 93, and regular mem-
bers 1,332; total 1,630.

The founders and the first initiates of the "Delta As-
ciation" were exceedingly prominent in the activities of
the Franklin Society as the copious notes of the minutes
will attest.

Perhaps no other document in the possession of the
fraternity can so vividly conjure up before our eyes the
student days of '47-'48 and '49, the prolific petty fin-
ing, the spontaneous wit, the earnest rivalry.



40 HISTORY OF PHI GAMMA DELTA

MINUTES OF FRANKLIN LITERARY SOCIETY

JEFFERSON COLLEGE
January 15, 1847
Regular debate, "Should a man be convicted of murder
in the first degree on circumstantial evidence ?" Fletcher
affirmative, McCarty, deny. (Latter appointed) Merits
of argument, "Decided equal by committee wuth a slight
discrimination in favor of the affirmative. Merits of the
question decided by Society in the affirmative."

January 22nd
T. B. Wilson fined 5c "for vi^alking between the chair
and the speaker."

February 5th
Resolved, "That it be optional with members to wear
slippers or pay 50c tax per session,"

March 5th

James Elliott applied for membership and elected. Com-
mittee appointed to publish a catalogue of Society, — Wil-
son, Sr., Hill, Sexton, S. B. Wilson & Woods, Jr. Com-
mittee on decoration of hall for contest, — Wilson, Sr.,
Fletcher, Sexton, McCarty, Maxwell & Irwin.

Wilson, Sr. fined 5c for lounging.

Fletcher elected Recording Secretary.

March 12th
"A rose was adopted as the badge of Society" (for
contest).

Committee to procure hangings for the chandelier, —
Wilson, Sr,, McCarty & Todd.

N. Fletcher, Scriba.

March iqth
Elliott "appeared and took his seat as a member."
Committee on order for contest, — Geary, McCarty, Wil-
son, Sr., & Hall were members with others.

N. Fletcher, Secretary.

March 23RD
Society convened in Providence Hall. "The contestors










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Commencement Program, Washington College, 1847
James G. Blaine one of the speakers



THE LITERARY SOCIETIES 41

exercised themselves upon the stage which had been erected
in the hall, after which the Society adjourned."

N. Fletcher, Secretary.

March 25, 1847

"A large and brilliant audience assembled in Providence
Hall which had been previously decorated in a style of
magnificence and grandeur never before equaled."
Franks won select oration, essay and debate; took 13
points out of 20.

April 2nd

S. B. Wilson chosen contest debater for '48. Commit-
tee, — to remodel library room, — Wilson, Sr., Beveridge,
& Pugh. "Is conscience innate?" Crofts deny. Wilson,
Sr., IOC for books. N. Fletcher, Scriba.

April 9th
Esq. McCullough, Phineas Gurley & Stephen Douglas
were elected honorary members. N. Fletcher, Scriba.

April i6th
Wilson, Sr., and others fined for disorder and for boots.
McKay loc "for quoting Scripture."

N. Fletcher, Scriba.
April 23RD
Subscribed for "Eclectic," "Littells" and "North Amer-
ican Review." S. B. Wilson and Wilson, Sr., loc each
"for talking during performance." Fletcher, Scriba.
So endeth these labors ! amen, amen. [A single line in
very small lettering by Fletcher.]

April 30TH
Elliott, Vice President, pro tem. Findley, loc "for sit-
ting in the window." Crofts, 25c "for refusing to debate
when appointed." Pelham, loc "for sitting in an improp-
er posture."

May 14TH
Committee of three "to attend to the library in vaca-
tion," — Wilson, Sr., Beveridge & Carson, Sr.
May 2 1 ST
"The granting of Mr. Crofts an honorable dismission



42 HISTORY OF PHI GAMMA DELTA

from Society was deferred till the next meeting. A com-
mittee of Mr. Crofts's particular friends was appointed
to confer with him. Committee, — S. B. Wilson, Mc-
Carty & Salisbury."

June 4TH, 1847
McCarty fined 25c "for disorder." [All six Phi Gam-
ma Delta founders were Franks.]

September 17TH
"Mr. Crofts was granted an honorable dismission."
Elliott elected essayist for contest.

September 24TH

S. A. Quay elected member of Society and initiated.
Subject for debate on contest in '48, as contained in min-
utes of this date, "Was the death of Mary Queen of Scots
justifiable?"

S. B. Wilson, IOC "for bringing a cane into Society."
Committee to confer with Philo Committee regarding time
of next contest, — Wilson, Sr., McCarty & Vincent.

October 8th

M. Quail elected member of Society. M. Quail initia-
ted October 15 th.

October 15TH

Fletcher debated affirmative of question, "Is Faith
natural to man ?" and won. "Mr. Crofts was reinstated
a regular member of this Society." Elliott and Wilson,
Sr., granted optional attendance. Gregg elected Corre-
sponding Secretary. Gregg and McCarty, 25c each "for
non-performance last meeting."

October 22nd
Ray initiated. Wilson, Sr., S. B. Wilson, Quay &
Quail not required to perform.

November i2th, 1847
"Fletcher's suspension was taken off. The suspension
of S. B. Wilson was taken off and his fine repealed."

Wednesday Evening, November 17TH
The Semi-Centenary of the Society observed in Provi-



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Commencement Program, Washington College, 1848



THE LITERARY SOCIETIES 43

dence Hall. "A large and brilliant audience was pres-
ent." Orators, Jacob Winters, p:sq. of Canonsburg and
Rev. Passavant of Pittsburg. [An account of Passavant's
oration appears earlier in this chapter.] Expense of
Semi-Centenary $5i - 2-l. One item, "Expense of one of
committee going to and returning from Pittsbure —
$3.50."

November iqth
Brown, loc "for bringing a cane into the hall." Stone-
road, IOC "for playing with Brown's cane."

November 26th
Select debaters, — Fletcher & Frazer.

E. B. Gregg, Corresponding Secretary.

December 3rd
Letter from the Philo Society: —

"Philo Hall, December 3, 1847
"Gentlemen of the Franklin Literary Society:

"I am authorized to inform you that Mr. Lawrence C.
Hepburn has been expelled from this Society.

"Yours truly,

"S. H. Dickie
"Corresponding Secretary."
"Fletcher's fines and suspension were taken off."

December 17TH
Thomas B. Wilson's name appears as member of a com-
mittee. Also McCarty's, Crofts's & Fletcher's. Crews
elected a member of Society.

December 31, 1847
"Mr. Crews appeared and took his seat as a regular
member."

Wilson, Sr., chairman of committee on decision of de-
bate. Frazer beat Fletcher in debate. McCarty, "25c for
disrespect to Society."

'Lyceum" — T. B. Wilson read an essay treating of
"Thunder Storms."

Woodrow excused till next time. Wilson & Woodrow


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Online LibraryWilliam Fosdick ChamberlinThe history of Phi gamma delta → online text (page 2 of 22)