Sigma Alpha Epsilon (ΣΑΕ, also SAE) is one of the largest North American Greek-letter social college fraternity founded at the University of Alabama on March 9, 1856. Of all existing national social fraternities today, Sigma Alpha Epsilon is the only one founded in the Antebellum South. Its national headquarters, the Levere Memorial Temple, were established on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois in 1929. At the time the Levere Memorial Temple was built, the building cost $400,000, it is now said that the building is priceless due to its extensive collections of Tiffany Stained-glass windows. Sigma Alpha Epsilon is the largest college fraternity by total initiates, with more than 400,000 initiated members and more than 11,800 undergraduates at 247 chapters and 17 colonies in 49 states and provinces at present.
Founders were Noble Leslie DeVotie, Nathan Elams Cockrell, John Barratt Rudulph, John Webb Kerr, Samuel Marion Dennis, Wade Hampton Foster, Abner Edwin Patton, and Thomas Chappell Cook. Their leader was DeVotie, who wrote the ritual, created the grip, chose the name. Rudulph designed the badge. Of all existing national social fraternities today, Sigma Alpha Epsilon is the first national fraternity founded in the antebellum South. Founded in a time of intense sectional feeling, Sigma Alpha Epsilon confined its growth to the southern states. By the end of 1857, the fraternity numbered seven chapters. Its first national convention met in the summer of 1858 at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with four of its eight chapters in attendance. By the time of the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, fifteen chapters had been established. None of the founders of SAE were members of any other fraternity, although Noble Leslie Devotie had been invited to join all of the other fraternities at the University of Alabama before founding Sigma Alpha Epsilon. The fraternity had fewer than 400 members when the Civil War began. Of those, 369 went to war for the Confederate States. Seventy-four members of the fraternity, including Noble DeVotie, lost their lives in the war. DeVotie, who served as a Chaplain in the Confederate Army, is noted as the first Alabama soldier to lose his life.
Brothers of WV - Alpha Greek Week 2010
After the Civil War, only one chapter survived – at tiny Columbian College (which is now George Washington University) in Washington, D.C.. When a few of the young veterans returned to the Georgia Military Institute and found their college burned to the ground, they decided to enter the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. The founding of a chapter there at the end of 1865, along with the re-establishment of the chapter at the University of Virginia, led to the fraternity's revival. Soon, other chapters came back to life and, in 1867, the first post-war convention was held at Nashville, Tennessee, where a half-dozen revived chapters planned the fraternity's future growth. The True Gentleman is the creed of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which was first adopted by the fraternity sometime in the 1930s. However, it wasn't until the 2001 Fraternity Convention in Orlando, Florida that it was officially adopted as the organization's creed. The definition was discovered by Judge Walter B. Jones, who first came upon it in an Alabama Baptist quarterly of which he was the editor. He sent a copy of it to John O. Moseley, the leader of the annual Leadership Schools, who was quite taken with it. Moseley began using it at the schools.
"The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe."
- John Walter Wayland. Virginia, 1899