The Great Decision
Late in 1907, several undergraduate members of Tau Kappa Epsilon were
again preparing a petition to be presented to the Phi Delta Theta
national convention in 1908. The wisdom of petitioning, however, was
being questioned with increasing frequency. To increase enthusiasm for
this fourth attempt, a banquet was held on October 19, 1907, at which
speeches were made both advocating and questioning the proposal. One of
the most notable and influential speeches given was a blistering
address by Wallace G. McCauley, titled "Opportunity Out of Defeat," in
which he advocated the abandonment of the petitioning process and the
substitution of a campaign for TKE to become its own national
the banquet, Frater McCauley said, "Someone has said that most
victories are defeats. As to the truth of that statement, numerous
instances can be cited tending to establish it. But just as true is the
converse of that proposition that most defeats are victories, and I
truly believe an instance of this was our failure to have reinstated
the Phi Delta Theta charter of Illinois Epsilon. I believe this in
spite of the fact that no one labored more zealously to that end during
the first two campaigns than myself. And, too, no one felt the defeats
at the time more bitterly than myself; but now, after an absence of a
year or so, I am brought to the conviction that Tau Kappa Epsilon was
indeed fortunate in her defeats, because thereby there was reserved for
us a large opportunity!"
"Interwoven about the sentiments of our
name and our pin, and engrained in the fiber of every member is the
Teke spirit - a spirit typical of our fraternity - a spirit that does
not shrink from sacrifice, that knows no defeat, a spirit indomitable.
A spirit which if breathed into a national Tau Kappa Epsilon would
spread our organization throughout the schools of our country!"
"But if we keep Tau Kappa Epsilon intact,
the Teke spirit will flow on forever. Let us not lack faith in this
project. Remember faith as a grain of mustard will overcome mountains
of difficulty. The history of other organizations lends us
encouragement. Phi Delta Theta was born a few years before the Civil
War in a student's room in a building of Miami University, less
pretentious than the preparatory building on the Wesleyan campus, and
today Phi Delta Theta is the fourth largest fraternity in existence."
"Fellow brothers, Tau Kappa Epsilon was
conceived in the early struggles of our existence. Time is now right to
start in on a national career, and we, its godfathers here tonight,
when it is grown to be a strong and lusty organization, touching
student life everywhere with the beneficence of its principles, will
obtain a satisfaction inexpressible in the part we had in its
Although arousing bitter opposition at the
time, this speech ultimately reduced the fourth petition to a bare
formality and became one of the significant turning points in the
history of the Fraternity. The complete "Opportunity Out of Defeat"
speech is available in the Appendix.
One of the measures advocated by McCauley in
his address was the publication of a quarterly magazine called The
Teke. This proposal met with immediate approval and the first issue was
published in January 1908, with Clyde M. Leach as the editor.
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