History of Our Four Founding Principles

A person need only read the Preamble to the early constitution (Quinquennial, pg. 17) to be comforted that the feeling of the Four Founding Principles lay within. They have been there from the very beginning, but were stated differently.

They first were called "objects." They were then called "purposes," before becoming the principles that we know today.

In the Preamble, it was stated, "We are confident that the great objects of equality, fraternity, and morality may be attained without resorting to the veil of secrecy. We, therefore, the several Anti-Secret Societies of Hamilton and Waterville Colleges, the University of Rochester, and Middlebury, Rutgers, and Jefferson Colleges, in order to secure greater unity, permanency, and efficiency of effort, do agree to form ourselves into a Fraternity for the purpose of counteracting the evil tendency of secret associations in College, for maintaining and diffusing liberal principles, and for promoting intellectual, social, and moral improvement."

The principles were in there, albeit hidden. This was the way at the Middlebury Convention of 1864. Thirty years after the founding.

The Constitution went through many remodels since the 1864 Convention. At nearly every convention that followed, the constitution was rewritten, added to, subtracted from, enhanced, or simplified. Article I, Section 2 of the constitution is the one to watch. At the 1864 writing, Section 2 stated, "The several societies constituting this Fraternity shall be denominated Chapters, and shall take their names from their respective Institutions." Notice that it makes no note of the Four Founding Principles. That would change.

Fast forward to the 56th Convention, held in Chicago in 1890. Minor revisions to the constitution were made. Article 1, Section 2 remained intact however. Because of this, the actions of the following convention establish the mark of change.

The 57th Convention, held with the Harvard Chapter in Boston, Massachusetts, occurred November 11-13, 1891. At the opening session, on November 11th, and after an address of welcome from then Active President, Brother Frank Gaylord Cook, Harvard 1882, the business of the convention began. After the report from the credentials committee was read, the list of delegates was called. The convention then heard reports from other standing committees, carried a motion that the privileges of the floor be extended to visitors, and adopted the minutes of the 56th Convention. It was then that Brother William V. Moody, Harvard 1893, moved that the revision of the Constitution be made the order of the day for the next session at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The motion carried.

At 3 o'clock, Brother Ellis J. Thomas, Williams 1888, of the Executive Council moved that the revision of the Constitution be taken up. The motion carried.

Then, Brother Thomas moved that the Constitution be taken up article-by-article, that the sections of each article be altered or amended in turn, and then the article as a whole taken up for final action. The motion carried.

The new Constitution was brought up. Article 1, Section 2 remained virtually the same, but with a slight alteration. There was still no mention of principles.

After progressing through the late afternoon, and work still unfinished, Brother Thomas moved that the revision of the Constitution be made the special order of the day for the next session at 9:30 am. The motion carried.

The next day the convention moved through the body of the Constitution, article-by-article, line-by-line. Finally, at the end of the second day, after all of the Articles had received treatment, the motion was made to virtually replace the old Constitution with the amended one. The motion carried. There was still no change to Article 1, Section 2.

The convention still had an issue with the Preamble. It had virtually been picked apart as a vulture picks away at the skeleton of a bovine carcass. Brother Thomas moved that the consideration of the Preamble be postponed for one year, and it would be taken up at next year's convention. The motion carried.

On the third day he rose again, to call the convention to order. President Frank G. Cook then recognized Brother Edward C. Morey, Syracuse 1884, who moved that the rules be suspended. The motion carried.

Brother Morey then moved that the vote that had been passed at the previous session, adopting Article 1 be reconsidered. The motion again carried. Brother Morey then moved that the following be inserted as Article 1, Section 2 and the sections be numbered to correspond:

"Sec. 2. The objects of this Fraternity shall include the promotion of friendship, the exertion of moral influence, the diffusion of liberal culture, and the advancement of equity in college affairs. It shall be non-secret."

Brother Wilson L. Fairbanks, Tufts 1887, brought up an amendment to the motion, which was accepted. The amendment simply stated that "The development of character" be substituted for "the exertion of moral influence."

Upon a roll call vote of organizations, the vote was unanimous. The motion carried. The new Article 1 was then inserted to the new revision, which was voted on and unanimously passed. Noticing the value of the new change, and seeing an opportunity to save some work for next year's convention, Brother Thomas moved to strike out the Preamble of the old Constitution once and for all. Upon another roll call vote of organizations, the vote was again unanimous, and the motion carried. The convention then quietly moved on with the remaining orders of the day.

So, the Four Founding "Objects" of the Fraternity arrived without fanfare. They were merely part of a convention business session that gave new life and look to an aging constitution.

With thanks also to Brother Fairbanks, Brother Morey can likely be called the "Father of the Four Founding Principles".

From the Convention of 1891, the Four Founding Principles have changed only slightly. Preceding the Convention of 1909, the convention that approved the incorporation, a committee was formed to review the constitution and by-laws. It was during this transition, by blanket passage, that "the advancement of equity in college affairs" became "the advancement of justice in college affairs."

From there the progression is slight. Sometime between the years of 1916 and 1923, the Four Founding "Objects" of the Fraternity became referred to as the "Purposes". It was at this time also, that "in college affairs" was dropped to make the fourth principle simply, "The Advancement of Justice." An exact time has yet to be determined. It was definitely no later than 1923 that the Principles as we know them today, were listed in printed form as such. In the 1923 (2nd Printing) issue of "The Manual of Delta Upsilon", they appear in the opening pages, proudly displayed. Listed as "The Purposes of Delta Upsilon", they have not yet been found printed in this manner before this time.

From that point, the "Purposes" became the Four Founding "Principles" that we refer to today sometime between 1958 and 1963. An exact time for this change has also yet to be determined. Most definitely, the Four Founding Principles have remained unchanged since no later than 1963.

It is with great interest, yet with an added sense of melancholy that our founding principles, that are so evident in our Fraternity today, came to us almost by accident. They were entered into our historical record almost as an afterthought, but from a person with forethought. They were a simple product of change, their meaning strengthening ever so slowly over time.

For years the story of our Four Founding Principles has been lost between the covers of books, a puzzle waiting to be put together. What began as a simple addition to a constitution, to provide a little more definition to a sense of purpose provided by our founding fathers, ended up as the still meaningful statement that we continue to use as our battle cry today.

Now, the story can be told, and we can now laud the efforts of the unsung hero, the Father of the Four Founding Principles, Brother Edward C. Morey, Syracuse 1884. Credit finally given, where credit has been due for the past 110 years.