To read about other prolific 

Psi Phi chapter 

brothers, click here.





October 31, 1867 - January 23, 1911


David Graham Phillips was born in Madison, Indiana, on October 31, 1867. After studying at Asbury University Phillips found work as a reporter with the Cincinnati Times-Star. Later he worked for the New York Sun and the New York World. While with these newspapers Phillips developed a reputation as a fine investigative journalist.

His first novel, The Great God Success (1901), sold well and so Phillips left the New York World and concentrated on writing fiction. Most of Phillips's novels employ journalistic techniques and explored a variety of social problems. The Plum Tree (1905) and Light Fingered Gentry (1907) both dealt with political corruption, whereas The Second Generation (1907) looked critical at the issue of inherited wealth.

Phillips was occasionally commissioned to write articles for magazines on political subjects. The Treason of the Senate, a series of articles published in Cosmopolitan in 1906 caused a tremendous stir. Phillips revealed that politicians were receiving huge payments from large corporation to argue their case in the Senate. This included a bitter attack on Nelson W. Aldrich of  Rhode Island and Arthur P. Gorman of  Maryland. 

Phillips accused both main parties, the Democrats and Republicans, of joining together to "advance the industrial and financial interests of the wealthy classes of the country". Accused of being a muckraker, Phillips returned to fiction and other success included Old Wives for New (1908), a novel that considered the social and economic position of women. In other novels such as The Conflict (1911) Phillips returned to the subject of political corruption.

On January 23, 1911, David Graham Phillips was murdered by a man who believed that the novel, The Fashionable Adventures of Joshua Craig, had libelously portrayed his family. Phillips's best known novel, Susan Lenox, a story about the rise to success of an illegitimate country girl, was published posthumously in 1917.


  The Treason of the Senate by David Graham Phillips - led to the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution, providing for popular senatorial elections.

David Graham Phillips was born on Oct. 31, 1867, in Madison, Ind. During his happy and comfortable childhood he developed especially close ties to his older sister Carolyn. After high school Phillips entered Asbury (DePauw) University, where he roomed with the future U.S. senator Albert J. Beveridge, a man whom Phillips considered a symbol of the success that can come from hard work. When Beveridge graduated, Phillips went to Princeton, where he received a degree in 1887.

New entrepreneurs such as S. S. McClure hit upon what Theodore Roosevelt dubbed as "muckraking." The term was taken as a compliment by the men and women who exposed corruption in politics and greed in business. Some of the most celebrated muckraking series were an exposé of patent medicines by Samuel H. Adams, a study of the Senate by David Graham Phillips, a report on urban government by Lincoln Steffens, and a history of the Standard Oil Company by Ida Tarbell. Several muckraking magazines had more than half a million subscribers, and overall, some 20 million American homes followed these investigations. In 1910 Senator Albert J. Beveridge called muckraking a "people's literature" amounting to "almost a mental and moral revolution." No permanent revolution of this type changed the American press, however. Cheap cover prices meant a heavier dependence on advertisers, who objected strongly to such journalism. Moreover, the exploitation of reform themes by so many magazines eventually made the formula stale in a culture attuned to novelty. Finally, as Roosevelt had feared, muckraking made political participation itself seem unappealing.

links DGP, ECP, and AJB


The life of David Graham Phillips essentially corresponds to this pattern. He was born on October 31, 1867, in Madison, Indiana, a town of ten thousand population lying fifty miles above Louisville on the Ohio river. Madison was founded in 1806, and its days of commercial glory were the two decades prior to the Civil War, when for a time it was the largest and wealthiest city in Indiana, a port for steamboat traffic. By the 1870's, however, the railroad had replaced the river as a carrier of commerce; Madison's prosperity had begun to wane, its shipyards to decline, its meatpacking industry to lose business to Chicago and St. Louis. Stately homes, a fixed society, and patterns of living established in the time of Jackson were the heritage of the town's pre-war business vitality. Phillips's father, an Indiana farm boy, lived in Madison from the time he was sixteen years of age, attended Indiana Asbury University, served as sheriff and clerk of court, and for thirty-one years was cashier of the National Branch Bank of Madison. Phillips grew up in an atmosphere compounded of banking, Republican politics, Bible-reading, Methodist morality, and love of learning. His father owned one of the best private libraries in southern Indiana, and Phillips was encouraged to read widely, particularly in American history. In later years be attributed his omnivorous reading and tenacious writing habits to that encouragement. Graham, as he was called at home, gained his early education in the Madison public schools, which, according to Arena editor B. 0. Flower, were staffed in the seventies by enthusiastic New England teachers who created a thoroughly democratic environment and were famous for efficiency and a high standard of ethical conduct. Phillips told Flower, "I went to the public-scbools ... and I do not know of anything I am more thankful for. If I bad my way, there should not be any other kind of schools, high or low." Although his principal interests were history, politics, and government, Phillips was an avid reader of novels and verse; his biographer, Issac F. Marcosson, reported that Graham had read all of Dickens, Hugo, and Scott before he was twelve and knew thousands of lines of poetry, including the whole of Gray's "Elegy." In 1882, at the age of fifteen, he enrolled at Asbury, his father's college, a Methodist institution in the rural atmosphere of Greencastle, Indiana (Which changed its name to DePauw University about the time Phillips departed). Among his college interests were languages, French realistic literature, debate, football, and the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, where he met the man who would become his closest and life-long friend, Albert Beveridge. Beveridge, a self-made man, impressed Phillips with his integrity, magnetism, and commanding voice. He was Phillips's roommate, and the writer in later years used him as model for his politician-hero, Hampden Scarborough, in a series of novels. Phillips admired Beveridge's determination to be a success, and the experience may have altered his own ambitions. By 1885, when Phillips left Indiana for Princeton University, he bad decided not to follow his father's banking profession. At Princeton for two years, be won reputation as a brilliant conversationalist and a fastidious dresser, and there he resolved to become a writer. Phillips graduated from Princeton in 1887 and began his journalistic career in Cincinnati, Ohio, ninety miles upriver from Madison.



Delta Pi of ΔKE ~ Illinois    ~    Delta Psi of ΔKE ~ Indiana   ~    Psi Phi of ΔKE ~ DePauw


Post Office Box 813     Greencastle,  Indiana  46135