Kappa Alpha Order

A Convivium Toast to Robert E. Lee

All across the Order, today and in many other dates this spring, Active and Alumni Brothers lift their glasses of water to toast the Order’s Spiritual Founder. January 19th being Lee’s birthday, it is a time that Kappa Alpha Order celebrates for that fact as well as our founding (Convention, 1929). The image to the right is that of Robert E. Lee as painted by Robert Karr. Karr’s portrait hangs directly inside the National Administrative Office at Mulberry Hill, Lexington, Virginia. The toast below was originally delivered in 1923 at the Convention in Washington, DC. Then Former Knight Commander John Temple Graves gave it first – it has been delivered thousands of times since. Check back to the website and facebook/twitter for more on celebrating Convivium today!


With unbroken regularity and with unfailing reverent tenderness Kappa Alpha Order celebrates the Nineteenth Day of January.

Upon that day Robert E. Lee was born in Virginia.

Upon that day was really born the Creed and matchless ritual for Kappa Alpha Order.  For when Lee was born the inspiration for the Creed was born.

Lee himself, living, loving, labouring perfectly in daily sight of those young men, was the proof and indication of the belief that it was possible for a living man to live up to the loftiest level of all human ideals. And in Lee was proved to Ammen’s eyes in the ideal and the realization of flawless manhood.  The ideal and the example of perfect creed met and mingled in one man.

Samuel Z. Ammen wrote almost alone the initiatory observances of the Kappa Alpha Order, and his name will abide in its annuals while the Order lives.

Robert E. Lee inspired and visualized in actual living the matchless customs of our fraternity, and his name will live in our hearts and in human history forever.  Ammen was the practical Founder, and for more than a half century has held the heart of Kappa Alpha; Lee was the spiritual Founder.  Let us speak it hear tonight.  It will not pluck one leaf from the laurels of Ammen.  There is neither need nor room for another star in the diadem which history has fashioned for Lee:  But the spirit of Lee inspired the spirit of Ammen; the Life of Lee had fired the heart of Ammen; the fingers of Lee has touched the fingers of Ammen that wrote the Creed.

Brothers will you please rise.

Knights, Gentlemen, Brethen:  The Toast – water only.

Lift high your glasses here tonight, and in the liquid spotless as his fame, let us pledge for all time the SPIRITUAL FOUNDER OF KAPPA ALPHA ORDER – ROBERT EDWARD LEE OF OLD VIRGINIA!

Everyone together – ROBERT EDWARD LEE – Drink!


Send us your Convivium pictures for The Kappa Alpha Journal and the KA:Blog.

  • Vic

    It’s a shame that this fraternity celebrates the infamy, crimes, and injustices of America’s antebellum South that Lee represents so thoroughly instead of finding inspiration in those who truly deserve to be admired. I know this comment will likely never see the light of day (as, I’m sure, similar comments have not), but I’m posting it anyway.

    • W.

      You are welcome to your opinion. One often-forgotten note about R.E. Lee and his inspiring of Kappa Alpha Order Founders while President of Washington College (later Washington & Lee): This remarkable man’s influence was mostly due to innate personal qualities and morals which he possessed both before and after the war (there really was/is something to all that “Love for God, Respect for Women” motto thing). And don’t start with the tired “The Civil War was over Slavery, therefore one must completely view the general’s character in such a light” stuff. Nope. Even all but the most brainwashed/PC/indoctrinated history professors would shoot that argument down. And most of those would possess Philosophy or __________ “Studies” backgrounds (many choices to fill in the blank). Recall that R.E. Lee influenced the KA Founders after the war during many evening discussions in the parlour of the Washington College president’s residence, in addition to other times and places (btw — oral discourse sans electronic entertainment is a lost art). Note that his post-war KA inspiring was based on chivalry and integrity that was central to the man and independent of the war. Therefore the aforementioned examples of inspiration based on antebellum “infamy, crimes and injustices” making General Lee undeserving of admiration are moot technically, and incorrect substantively

      Censorship is a tool of the “other side.” — those whose arguments would wither under scrutiny in the light of day. Therefore from a pro-KAO/Lee point of view, there would be no reason for your post “never to see the light of day.” If General R.E. Lee were alive today, he would be mentoring patriotic, studious, chivalrous, and Christian (or spiritual at least) young men and women. Many would lead the way in battle to preserve your right to express any opinion you choose. Others would lead industry and government. If you had a daughter or son in this age group, I bet one of General Lee’s trainees would be most welcome to court your “kid.” Yes, I realize we’re not talking about censorship of ideas by, say, the NYT or Washington Times — a media version of 1st Amendment violation by the government. But, I have the feeling that the general would be extremely effective in convincing others to join his camp, as it were, and would find himself the target of a “Draft Bob” campaign to run for a powerful federal office (yes, FEDERAL!). Hey, the resulting Run-Lee-Run PAC could eliminate the deficit. All this from his leading by example!

      God Bless and never fear (not that you are “afraid”) posting or otherwise making your arguments in any forum — just don’t use the image of the Prophet Muhammad… Civil disagreement and debate is desperately needed, especially today.

      I for one shall “lift high [my glass]” of spotless liquid to honor an exceptional role model worthy of admiration!

      – W.

      • sam cole

        Fabulous response !! —-Sam G Cole III -AM’61

    • John Russell Simmons

      It is true that there are those who worship Lee for the wrong reasons but I do not believe Kappa Alpha falls in that category. Keep in mind that when and where KA was founded: at Washington College while Lee was the president of the university. The founders knew him through his time as an educator, a role model, and a private citizen. Kappa Alpha reveres and encourages its members to emulate the man, the general is often an afterthought. The founders of KA themselves, only knew “the general” through reputation. It’s truly unfortunate that in the minds of so many, a man of such integrity should forever be associated only with the “infamy, crimes and injustices” that did in fact occur in the South before and during the Civil War. After all, Lee himself was no proponent of slavery. However, I applaud KA for recognizing and promoting the good that Lee’s legacy and life can represent, in spite of the common opinion of him. He was a man of honor and integrity respected by citizens and soldier alike on both sides of the Mason-Dixon, even in the midst of the war. So, while you are most certainly welcome to your opinion, I ask that you consider what it is Kappa Alpha actually tries to do: not celebrate what is Lee so often made to represent, but what the man actually stood for in life; before, during, and after the war.

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