National History

Founding of Delta Chi

The history of The Delta Chi Fraternity dates back to 1889 at the Cornell University Law School in Ithaca, NY. Two groups of men began to have conversations in the fall of 1889 about starting a second law fraternity on campus, but after a heavy workload during that semester, the idea was postponed until the following semester. During the spring semester, two incidents have been credited with providing the impetus for renewed interest in the founding of what was to become Delta Chi. One was the election of a Phi Delta Phi as the Law School Editor of the Cornell Daily Sun (the student newspaper) and the second was the election of the law school junior class president. In the case of the class presidency, Alphonse Derwin Stillman had done some campaigning for a student named Irving G. Hubbard and was unaware of any effort being made in anyone else's behalf. When the voting results were in, Charles Frenkel, a Phi Delta Phi, was declared the winner. That caused Stillman to start "asking around." It appears that what he found was a law school which was dominated by one small, closely knit group — Phi Delta Phi.

According to Frederick Moore Whitney there were a couple of different groups working on the idea of forming a new law fraternity that spring. There were some men that were involved in both groups, and while it is unclear as to when the two groups came together that Spring, meetings were held to unfold the idea of forming a new fraternity.


While the class officer elections and the Law School Editorship incidents may have provided the initial incentives for organization, it soon became clear that those involved were looking for much more. Realizing a common desire for fellowship and intellectual association, they sought to enrich their college experiences by creating among themselves a common bond; a bond that would materially assist each in the acquisition of a sound education; a bond that would provide each enduring value.

Over the summer, many of the details of the organization were worked out by Myron McKee Crandall, who had stayed in Ithaca until after school opened. There was additional work accomplished by Monroe Marsh Sweetland, John Milton Gorham and Alphonse Derwin Stillman.

In regards to the adoption of the constitution, Albert Sullard Barnes wrote the following in his 1907 Quarterly article: "As I recall it, after refreshing my recollection from the original minutes now in my possession, on the evening of October 13, 1890, six students in the Law School, brothers John M. Gorham, Thomas J. Sullivan, F. K. Stephens, A.D. Stillman and the writer, together with Myron Crandall and O. L. Potter, graduate students, and Monroe Sweetland, a former student in the Law School, met in a brother's room and adopted the constitution and by-laws, and organized the Delta Chi Fraternity."