national history

Nationally founded in 1856, Theta Chi Fraternity has more than 235 established chapters throughout the United States and Canada. Theta Chi Fraternity is one of the oldest and largest men’s fraternities in North America today. Our past is indeed proud, reflecting a society founded by two young idealistic cadets. For 46 years, Theta Chi was but one chapter, Alpha at Norwich University. Our growth from 1902 and over the next century is a tribute to the standards, ideals, and objectives of those cadets and over 161,000 men who have followed them and taken the vows of Theta Chi Fraternity. Those ideals and standards are as meaningful today as in 1856. Our growth and expansion demonstrate that there are many thousands of young men who join our chapters and colonies each year to share in that brotherhood.

Theta Chi Society, as it was then known, was founded at Norwich University, Norwich, Vermont, at nine o'clock on Thursday evening, April 10, 1856. At that time Frederick Norton Freeman '57, and Arthur Chase '56, met in Freeman's room in the Old South Barracks of the University and, to quote from the minutes of the first meeting, "being called to order by Mr. Chase, Messrs. Chase and Freeman mutually took the oaths prescribed and declared each other true and accepted members of the Theta Chi Society."

 

“There is a destiny that makes us brothers, none goes his way alone; all that we send into the lives of others, comes back into our own…”

From this humble beginning Theta Chi Fraternity has grown to its present status. To quote again from the minutes of the first meeting we learn that, "The Theta Chi Society was the idea and plan of Frederick Norton Freeman, and with the assistance of Arthur Chase, his plans were perfected and the society was organized.” Chase was elected president and Freeman was elected secretary. The next evening, April 11, the first initiation was conducted. One of the initiates was Edward Bancroft Williston of San Diego, California, and the other was Lorenzo Potter of Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Theta Chi was the first Greek Letter society to make its appearance at Norwich.

 

Frederick Norton Freeman

Arthur Chase

The fundamentals of the organization, as expressed in the original constitution, to this day remain unchanged. Our present ritual includes the original ritual used in 1856. The oaths taken by Freeman and Chase on that April evening long ago have since been shared by every man initiated into Theta Chi.

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