Phi Alpha Delta's Benson Chapter

Alfred Washburn Benson (July 15, 1843 - January 1, 1916)

Our chapter was named after Alfred Washburn Benson,  a Kansas Supreme Court Justice, United States Senator from Kansas, and Washburn Law Professor.

Born in Poland, New York, he moved to Jamestown, New York in 1860, and attended Jamestown and Randolph Academies. During the Civil War, he enlisted in 1862 as a private in the One Hundred and Fifty-fourth Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry, and at the close of the war held a commission as major.

He studied law, and was admitted to the bar in Buffalo, New York in 1866 and commenced practice in Sherman, New York. He moved to Ottawa, Kansas in 1869, held various local offices, and was a member of the Kansas Senate from 1881 to 1885.

He was a judge of the fourth judicial district of Kansas from 1885 to 1897, and was appointed as a Republican to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Joseph R. Burton; he served from June 11, 1906 to January 23, 1907.

Benson is Formed

Alfred Benson began teaching part time at Washburn Law School in 1907, teaching ten credit hours in five subjects (Quasi-Contracts, Mortgages, Domestic Relations, Criminal Pleading, Damages). In addition, he made himself available in the library for one hour each afternoon to advise students informally on any legal questions they wished to ask him.

From the outset of his teaching career, students responded to his interest in their legal training. Students noted, "No lapse of years has dimmed the youthful outlook of his mind for the years to come; no firmly settled habits of life have prevented him from adapting himself wholly to the new work; no bitterness or pessimism have chilled the natural enthusiasm and ardor of his scholars; no lagging interest in his work that was, to say the least, different to him, has permitted any student an excuse for his own disinterest."

He threw himself into the whole of academic life, leading law students on several marches out to the main campus and in various school parades. So large was Benson’s legend that the school’s chapter of Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity was named in his memory even though it was not formed until six years after his death.

Petition to Phi Alpha Delta from the Benson Club at Washburn University (then Washburn College), Topeka, KS. The Benson Club would become the Alfred W. Benson Chapter in 1921. (See Left)

- Credit to Professor James M. Concannon for history and Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, International for pictures

Benson Chapter's Founders Day Banquet, 1953.

Click here for history of Phi Alpha Delta International