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Who Was Robert Morrison?

03.03.2021

Robert Morrison, Miami ’49

Brother Robert Morrison, Bond # 1, a mature and natural leader, had the calloused hands of a farm youth and the thoughtful mind of a scholar. On the farm, he once split 200 rails in a day, and on another day, he reaped 384 bundles of wheat.

He came to Miami at age twenty-five. Soon after he arrived at college, he won a wrestling match with the campus champion. A tireless walker, he also had an untiring mind. Before coming to Miami, he had spent a freshman year at Ohio University. He taught at the district schools in the hills of Pennsylvania at breaks from pursuing his studies. At Miami University, he became the honor man of his class, graduating magna cum laude. In the fraternity circle, he was a listener as well as a leader. He took counsel from his friends, his gray eyes thoughtful and his strong face often lighting with a smile.

Throughout his life, he kept a sense of humor joined to a sense of honor. He had a long career as a teacher, editor, and minister. Though he was an inland man, he liked sea-going metaphors; he was the first to speak of the good ship Phi and her sturdy crew.

His lifetime commitment to Phi Delta Theta resulted in the opening of four chapters: Miami University, Indiana University, Centre College, and Westminster College. He attended many General Conventions, including the semi-centennial in Columbus, Ohio, in 1898.

Even though the first meeting of Phi Delta Theta was December 26, 1848, the Fraternity celebrates its founding on March 15, the annual birthday of Robert Morrison.

His lifework involved hardship, self-denial, and sacrifice, and he did much to advance the cause of education and the church.

His most famous quote is this— “To do what ought to be done but would not have been done unless I did it, I thought to be my duty.”

  • Morrison was the first to sign The Bond of Phi Delta Theta
  • Morrison designed the Badge of the Fraternity and had the first of its kind created by a Cincinnati jeweler
  • Upon Morrison’s death, the Fraternity honored him at the 1902 convention and presented Widow Morrison with a paid-in-full mortgage and a lifetime annuity

Read The Hunt for Robert Morrison’s Birthplace


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