How many U.S. Vice Presidents have been in a fraternity? A goodly number, it turns out. Here is a list of Vice Presidents since 1869,* when Schuyler Colfax became the first fraternity man to become Vice President. I’ve included all the names from Colfax to Joe Biden, even those who were not fraternity men, or college graduates, for that matter, because these men don’t get much publicity.
Schuyler Colfax – Beta Theta Pi (Honorary). The Exchanges section in the April, 1885 Anchora of Delta Gamma noted, “The third article gives us a short sketch of Honorable Schuyler Colfax, who was an honorary member of Beta Theta Pi, but exhibited all of the enthusiasm of an active one.” Another account in the Beta magazine, tells of Colfax, a “whole souled Beta,” lecturing in Evanston, Illinois, on January 17, 1876, accepting an invitation from the University of Chicago Beta chapter to attend a chapter meeting. He did. Mayhem from the other fraternities ensued; they barred the front door. Colfax and the Betas went out the back door where he delivered “an extemporaneous lecture to the mob which, for point and pungency, excelled even his brilliant platform efforts.” The event was captured in the Chicago papers and the offending students made a public apology, spurred on by the college authorities.
Henry Wilson, no affiliation
William A. Wheeler, no affiliation
Chester A. Arthur, Psi Upsilon, Union College, became President
Thomas A. Hendricks, no affiliation. The Rainbow of Delta Tau Delta (October 1885) noted that there were “no fraternities at Hanover until many years after his college days were over.”
Levi P. Morton, no affiliation
Adlai Stevenson I, Phi Delta Theta, Centre College
Garret Hobart, Delta Phi, Rutgers College (now Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey)
Theodore Roosevelt, Delta Kappa Epsilon and Alpha Delta Phi, Harvard University, became President
Charles W. Fairbanks, Phi Gamma Delta, Ohio Wesleyan College. He served as Phi Gamma Delta’s Archon President from 1903-05.
James Schoolcraft Sherman, Sigma Phi, Hamilton College
Thomas Riley Marshall, Phi Gamma Delta, Wabash College
Calvin Coolidge, Phi Gamma Delta, Amherst College, became President
Charles G. Dawes, Delta Upsilon, Marietta College
Charles Curtis, no affiliation
John Nance Garner, Pi Kappa Alpha, Vanderbilt University
Henry Agard Wallace, Delta Tau Delta, Iowa State University**
Harry S. Truman, Lambda Chi Alpha and Alpha Delta Gamma, honorary member, became President
Alben W. Barkley, Delta Tau Delta, Emory University
Richard Nixon, no affiliation, became President at a later time
Lyndon B. Johnson, no affiliation, became President
Hubert Humphrey, Phi Delta Chi, University of Minnesota. He was also an honorary member of Alpha Phi Alpha and Chi Delta Mu, a fraternity founded at Howard University for blacks in Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy or Doctors who graduated in these professions; Chi Delta Mu is no longer in existence.
Spiro Agnew, no affiliation
Gerald Ford, Delta Kappa Epsilon, University of Michigan, became President
Nelson Rockefeller, Psi Upsilon, Dartmouth College
Walter Mondale, no affiliation
George H. W. Bush, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Yale University, became President
Dan Quayle, Delta Kappa Epsilon, DePauw University
Al Gore, no affiliation
Dick Cheney, no affiliation
Joe Biden, no affiliation
Michael Pence, Phi Gamma Delta, Hanover College (served as his chapter’s president)
For the list of Presidents and First Ladies in fraternities and sororities see http://www.franbecque.com/u-s-presidents-who-belong-to-fraternities-and-first-ladies-who-are-sorority-members/
* Thomas Jefferson, the nation’s second Vice President and third President was a member of the Flat Hat Club. The Flat Hat Club was founded at the College of William and Mary in 1750. It is believed to be the precursor of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, which was established at the same institution in 1776. The modern F.H.C. Society was revived at the College of William and Mary in May, 1972. The Flat Hat is also the name of the college’s student newspaper.
** Henry Agard Wallace’s mother was (Carrie) May Brodhead Wallace. She was an early member of the Pi Beta Phi chapter at Iowa State University. Henry A.’s father, Henry Cantwell Wallace, served as Secretary of Agriculture under Calvin Coolidge. When the Pi Phis presented the portrait of Grace Coolidge to the nation, Mrs. Wallace served as the D.C. point person in coordinating the event. There is a page about Grace Coolidge on the header to this blog.
(c)Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2013. All Rights Reserved.