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Sigma Chi Timeline 1855-1880


Year Sigma Chi World*
  • Sigma Chi founded at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.
  • Wisconsin Supreme Ct declares US Fugitive Slave Law unconstitutional.
  • Aleksandr Romanov becomes tsar of Russia.
  • Greek-letter rivals at Miami University stole the Ritual and records, which necessitated the preparation of a new constitution and Ritual and a change in name from Sigma Phi to Sigma Chi.
  • Tin-type camera patented by Hamilton Smith, Gambier, Ohio.
  • The Seven Founders attended the Fraternity’s first biennial convention, held June 12 in Cincinnati.
  • On October 10, Eta chapter was installed at the University of Mississippi, Oxford, Miss. Eta’s was the fourth charter granted.
  • Bell, Caldwell, Cooper, Runkle and Jordan graduated that June from Miami University.
  • Dred Scott Decision: Supreme Court rules slaves cannot be citizens.
  • Queen Victoria chooses Ottawa as new capital of Canada.
  • On September 10, Lockwood and Scobey, the last of the Founders to graduate from Miami, established Lambda chapter at Indiana University in Bloomington, now the oldest chapter in continual existence in Sigma Chi.
  • In June, Alpha, the parent chapter, became inactive, and Gamma chapter assumed its governing power for the next 24 years.
  • 1st Lincoln-Douglas debate (Illinois).
  • First news dispatch by telegraph.
  • Twelve chapters had been installed prior to the Civil War. Fraternity records contain the names of 265 active and alumni members who were in the conflict. Of this number, 147 were in the Union forces and 118 with the Confederacy, totaling more than 60 percent of the total Sigma Chi membership of 432.
  • Founders Runkle, Scobey, Lockwood, Bell and Cooper fought for the Union in the conflict. Caldwell, who made his home in Panola County, Miss., fought with the Confederacy.
  • The third Grand Chapter met in Wheeling, West Virginia, and there the first official “Form of Initiation” was designated for all chapters. “In Hoc Signo Vinces,” a secret motto since 1856, was made the official public motto.
  • United States Civil War Begins.
  • Queen Victoria announces England's position of neutrality.
  • Harry St. John Dixon and his small band of Sigma Chi soldiers established what has come to be known as the Constantine Chapter of Sigma Chi on the night of September 17 during the heated Atlanta campaign of the Civil War.
  • U.S. Civil War in its 4th and final year--ending with the formal surrender of Confederate Forces at Appromattox Court House on April 9th, 1865.
  • Red Cross forms in Geneva.
  • The Sixth Biennial Celebration was held on December 27-28 in Washington, D.C. Here, the name “Grand Chapter” was first used.
  • Cincinnati Baseball club (Red Stockings) forms. They go on to become the first professional Baseball team.
  • Atlantic telegraph cable successfully laid (1,686 miles long)
  • The eighth Grand Chapter, held in Philadelphia, adopted blue and gold as the Fraternity’s colors. These colors are now standardized as Blue and Old Gold.
  • 1st sorority (Kappa Alpha Theta) (DePauw U in Greencastle, Indiana).
  • U.S. passes the 15th Amendment, guarantees right to vote regardless of race.
  • The first alumni chapter was established in Indianapolis, Ind.
    The Grand Chapter elected Harry St. John Dixon as Grand Historian, making him the Fraternity’s first Grand Officer.
  • 1st national convention of Prohibition Party (Columbus Ohio).
  • Britain pays US$15½m for damages during Civil War.
  • The “Purdue Case” – in which Thomas P. Hawley was denied entrance into Purdue University because of his prior initiation into and affiliation with Sigma Chi – began. The case came to a head in 1881 when Judge D.P. Vinton ruled that the faculty had no right to bar Hawley from their classes on the issue. When the appeal decision was handed down on June 21, 1882, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that Fraternities could exist on the campus of Purdue University – a sweeping victory for Sigma Chi.
  • Alexander Graham Bell patents telephone.
  • The United States celebrates its centennial.
< < < 1855-1880—The Founding   ||—||   1881-1905—A New Form of Govenance> > >

*Source of World Events: History Orb Click the years above to see more events in that year.