Pi Kappa Alpha was founded at the University of Virginia on March 1, 1868. At the time, the University of Virginia was the fifth largest school in the United States. Only Harvard, Yale, Cornell and Michigan were bigger. The University of Virginia is considered the first truly American state university because it was the first to be established totally free from religious control.
It all started in Room 47 West Range when Frederick Southgate Taylor turned to Littleton Waller Tazewell, his cousin and roommate, for help in starting a new fraternity. Also present was James Benjamin Sclater, Jr., a schoolmate of Tazewell, and Sclater's roommate Robertson Howard. Those four men voted to add a fifth to their group and chose Julian Edward Wood. Although history is unclear, William Alexander, probably a friend of Sclater, Jr., was proposed for membership and was admitted as a founder. The first initiate was Augustus Washington Knox.
The essence of the Founders' vision for Pi Kappa Alpha can be found in its Preamble. A committee was first suggested by Brother William Alexander "to draw up a statement of the origin and the organization of the Fraternity." The committee was composed of brothers Robertson Howard and Littleton Waller Tazewell. The resulting statement is now referred to as the Preamble.
Frederick Southgate Taylor, James Benjamin Sclater, Julian Edward Wood
Littleton Waller Tazewell, Robertson Howard, William Alexander
The years after the Civil War found a proliferation of American college fraternities being organized, particularly in the South. Pi Kappa Alpha's founding in 1868 was soon followed by the founding of Kappa Sigma and Sigma Nu. These fraternities, along with Alpha Tau Omega, Kappa Alpha Order, and Sigma Phi Epsilon, are known as the "Virginia Circle".
Before the end of Spring 1868, the brothers had decided that they wanted more than a Virginia society. They wanted to become a national fraternity. The following 21 years would prove to be some of the most troublesome times, nearly shattering the dreams of these young men. With universities making it nearly impossible for fraternities to exist by placing bans on the presence of secret societies, the Fraternity was still able to expand. The second chapter, Beta (Davidson College), had even voted to disband saying in a letter to the president of the college, "we have disbanded our chapter and we do not intend to carry it on unless we can do it openly and above board, as we regard its ties too sacred for other procedure."
Theron Rice, Howard Arbuckle, Robert Smythe, and John Foster