As the Christmas holidays approached in 1848, the atmosphere on the Miami campus in Oxford, Ohio was gloomy and uncertain. This was the mood in which Robert Morrison suggested to a close friend and classmate, John McMillan Wilson, that they consider putting together a new collegiate brotherhood. Morrison and Wilson, thinking in terms of providing a permanent base with growth potential, sought out underclassman that they believed they would be dedicated to their cause. Thus juniors John Wolfe Lindley and Robert Thompson Drake were approached, as were sophomores Ardivan Walker Rodgers and Andrew Watts Rogers, all of who accepted the concept.
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 Old North Hall, directly above Morrison’s room. They firmed up their desire to establish a brotherhood.
On December 30, the “Immortal Six” put their signatures to The Bond of the Phi Delta Theta in Wilson’s room. The Bond has remained unchanged from that day to this. So far as it is known, it is the only document of any fraternity of such a character and it is easy to understand the veneration with which all members of Phi Delta Theta regard it.
Throughout the late 1800s, Phi Delta Theta chapters emerged on college campuses across the Midwest. Then, at the installation of Quebec Alpha on April 5, 1902, a toast to the King was followed by a toast to the President and Phi Delta Theta was hence forth known as an international fraternity. The Fraternity continued to extend its presence in Canada, eventually stretching from coast to coast.
Since its founding, Phi Delta Theta members have occupied every major public office including the presidency and vice presidency of the United States, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senators and Congressmen, State Governors and Senators in the Canadian House of Commons.
Phi Delta Theta reaffirmed its leadership role in the late 1990s when it voted to eliminate alcohol from chapter facilities by the year 2000. Based on this new movement, the Fraternity has undergone one of its largest growth spurts in the history of the modern Fraternity. This indicates a renewed demand for a values-based organization from college students. Phi Delta Theta continues to be a model for other Greek organizations looking to make the same positive move. Phi Delta Theta now has nearly 170 active chapters in 42 states and five Canadian provinces. The Fraternity has initiated more than 240,000 men and currently has more than 160,000 living alumni. There are over 100 recognized alumni clubs across the U.S. and Canada.