History of the Order of AHEPA 1922 - 1972
The Beginning - July 26, 1922
"We, American citizens of Hellenic descent …"
With these words, the preamble of the Constitution of the Order of Ahepa begins. It continues
"… desiring to form, institute and perpetuate a fraternal Order and promote its objects and principles; to effect a perfect and harmonious understanding between ourselves and others; …"
The "perfect and harmonious understanding between ourselves and others" is truly meant to achieve harmony and understanding between the immigrant from Greece and his neighbors, the Americans who were already second, third, and further removed generations from their own immigrant ancestors. Despite antagonistic attitudes from organized groups, the Greek immigrant was determined to find harmony.
"To inculcate loyalty and patriotism to and for the country in which we live; …"
Families had formed among the Greek immigrants, children born and growing, and this was now the home for the Greek immigrant and his family; it was an acknowledged fact that they were or would be citizens of America, and Ahepa recognized the loyalty and patriotism due to America.
"To stimulate the spirit of good fellowship and cooperation and to aid in the solution of social and civic problems."
This last portion of the Preamble of the Ahepa Constitution served notice that its members had not only the obligation of good fellowship to their fellow citizens, but also the obligation of actively assisting in all phases of civic life and becoming an active part of their respective town or city.
The Ahepa Constitution then lists the "Objects, Principles and Ideals" of the Order of Ahepa, which are:
A - To promote and encourage loyalty to the United States of America; (and in Canada, Australia, The Bahamas, to those respective nations and governments); allegiance to its flag; support to its Constitution; obedience to its laws and reverence for its history and traditions.
B - To instruct its members, by precepts and examples, in the tenets and fundamental principles of government, and in the recognition and respect of the inalienable rights of mankind;
C - To instill in every one of its members a due appreciation of the privileges of citizenship, and the sacred duties attendant therewith; and to encourage its members to always be profoundly interested and actively participating in the political, civic, social and commercial fields of human endeavor, and always to strive for the betterment of society;
D - To awaken in every member an abhorrence of all political corruption -- the destroyer of free institutions -- and pledge its members to do their utmost to stamp out from this country every trace and influence of this evil;
E - To arouse mankind to the realization that tyranny, wherever it may exercise its baneful power, is a menace to the life, property, prosperity, honor and integrity of every nation; and that the preservation of our liberties can be assured, only as this country becomes the Champion of Liberty and the Defender and Protector of all oppressed and downtrodden peoples;
F - To promote throughout the world, and especially in the United States of America (and Canada, Australia, and The Bahamas) a better and more comprehensive understanding of the Hellenic Peoples and Nation, and to revive, cultivate, enrich and marshal into active service for Humanity the noblest attributes and highest ideals of true Hellenism;
G - To labor in every manner possible, and to utilize every means available for the perfection of the moral sense in its members; to promote good fellowship among them; to endow them with a spirit of altruism, common understanding, mutual benevolence and helpfulness; and to point out to them, in unmistakable methods, the advantages of education, the beauties of sacrifice and the deformities of selfishness;
H - To champion the cause of education; to support the American (or Canadian, Australian, The Bahamian) system of public schools and keep them free from religious prejudice; to promote and augment the educational advantages of this country; and to open, establish and maintain new channels for facilitating the dissemination of culture and learning; and
I - To resist, by lawful means and methods, any tendency towards a union between the civil Government and any church or religion, and to repel the interference of any religion in governmental affairs.
The Ahepa Constitution then further includes an Article III with the heading "Non-Partisan and Non-Sectarian" which states: "This Order shall be non-partisan in politics and non-sectarian in religion. All partisan political and all sectarian religious discussions are strictly prohibited in any official deliberations thereof."
The Order of Ahepa is administered by its Constitution and By-Laws under which all of its various units are guided in their various administrations.
The annual Supreme Conventions have the authority to amend the Constitution and By-Laws, and also elect the Supreme Lodge which is responsible for adherence to the Constitution by the subordinate units, and charged with carrying out convention mandates.
Under the Supreme Lodge are the 24 District Lodges, which administer the 24 Ahepa Districts, and each District Lodge has seven elected officers: District Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary, Treasurer, Marshall, Advisor, and Athletic Director.
The Supreme Lodge is composed of the Supreme President, Supreme Vice President, Supreme Vice President of Canada, Supreme Secretary, Supreme Treasurer, Supreme Counsellor, and six Supreme Governors. There is also a Supreme Athletic Director elected by the convention, but he is not officially listed as a member of the Supreme Lodge in the Constitution.
Within each of the 24 Ahepa Districts are the local Chapters, which vary in number within each District. It is the District Lodge responsibility to oversee the activities and programs of the local Chapters. Each Chapter elects its own officers, and also has appointed officers, all of whom serve for one year terms.
The "Ahepa Family" concept includes the Order of Ahepa, and its three Auxiliaries, the Daughters of Penelope (senior women), the Sons of Pericles (junior young men), and Maids of Athena (junior girls). These four organizations makeup the Ahepa Family, and the Order of Ahepa has full authority over its Auxiliaries. Wherever possible, activities and programs of these four organizations are held in a coordinated fashion, but each group has its own governing officers, respectively elected by each organization.
The Order of Ahepa and its Auxiliaries are non-profit associations, recognized as such by the Internal Revenue Service of the U.S. Treasury Department. Ahepa's programs are charitable, educational, and fraternal, it is exempt from payment of federal and state income taxes, and contributions and donations to the Ahepa to be used for its charitable and educational programs are tax-deductible by the donors, within the scope of U.S. tax laws.
The Founding of the Order of Ahepa
Article I of the Ahepa Constitution states: "This Order shall be known as The Order of AHEPA, The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, founded July 26, 1922."
The word "AHEPA" is an acronym, composed of the first letters of the five words "American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association." It was founded, as stated above, on July 26, 1922, and the founding place was Atlanta, Georgia.
The Founders of the fraternity were eight men, all residents of Atlanta, who conceived the idea of the establishment of an association of mainly citizens of Greek descent, although not limited only to such members. These eight Founders who were also the first Supreme Lodge, were:
- Nicholas D. Chotas, Supreme President
- James Campbell, Supreme Vice-President
- Harry Angelopoulos, Supreme Secretary and Treasurer
- S. J. Stamos, Assistant Secretary
- George A. Polos, Supreme Governor
- John Angelopoulos, Supreme Governor
- George Campbell, Supreme Governor
- James Vlass, Supreme Governor
The eight Founders of the Ahepa are also given the title: "MOTHER LODGE."
The Charter of the Order of Ahepa
September 25, 1922 - State of Georgia
Georgia, Fulton County:
To The Superior Court of said County:
The petition of George A. Poulos, Harry Angelopoulos, James Vlass, John Angelopoulos, N. D. Chotas and James Campbell of Fulton County, Georgia shows:
(1) That they desire for themselves, their associates and successors to be incorporated under the name and style of "The American-Hellenic Educational Progressive Association," for a period of twenty years, with the privilege of renewal at the expiration of that time.
(2) The object of said association is to form a fraternal order and secure members therefore, with the purpose in view of advancing and promoting pure and undefiled Americanism among the Greeks of the United States, the territorial and colonial possessions thereof; to educate Greeks of the United States in the matter of democracy, and of the government of the United States, and to instill the deepest loyalty and allegiance of the Greeks of this country to the United States, its tenets and institutions and to teach the operation and meaning of the said government together with its laws, rules and regulations; and to promote American education among the Greeks; and to promote the highest type of American citizenship among the Greeks; and to promote a spirit of fraternity, sociability and benevolence among the members.
(3) Petitioners, already having formed themselves into the "Supreme Lodge," desire the right and power in their corporate name to organize other lodges to be known as "Superior Lodges" and "Subordinate Lodges" in the different cities, towns and hamlets of the different states of the United States, and of the different Territorial and Colonial possessions of the United States if desired, and to provide rules and regulations for said lodges. Said "The American-Hellenic Educational Progressive Association" is to provide a ritual through said "Supreme Lodge," control the ceremonies and to have full and entire control of the said organization, and all matters of complaint between its members, or with superior or subordinate lodges shall be finally settled by its decree. The said "Supreme Lodge" shall be the chief functioning body of said organization. It being the intention of said Association to carry on a fraternal society in conformity with the laws of the State of Georgia.
(4) There shall be no capital stock as none is required or needed in execution of the plans and powers herein sought. Petitioners only desire to organize, and conduct a purely fraternal order based upon the precepts as herein before set forth.
(5) The principal office and place of business of said Association will be in the city of Atlanta, County and State aforesaid, with the privileges of establishing branch offices at any other place desired.
(6) Said Association desired the right to receive donations, make bylaws for the government of itself and its superior and subordinate lodges, sue and be sued, buy, sell or lease real or personal property if beneficial to its organization, or the fund realized therein, and to have all the powers usual or necessary to corporations of like character.
Wherefore, petitioners pray to be made a body corporate, with the privileges and powers herein prayed.
Hutcheson & Morris Attorney's for Petitioners
Filed in Office, this the 28th day of July, 1922.
Arnold Broyles, C.S.C.
Georgia, Fulton County.
In Re: Application of Geo. A. Poulos et al., for incorporation under the name and style of
"The American-Hellenic Educational Progressive Association"
It appearing to the court that the purpose of this incorporation as set forth in the application for incorporation are each and severally within the intent of the laws of Georgia, and all requirements of law have been duly met and complied with including publication as required by law, and this matter coming on to be heard, after full and complete compliance with all lawful requirements in the premises; and there being no objection thereto.
It is therefore considered, ordered and adjudged that the prayers of petitioners are granted, & that the petitioners are incorporated as prayed, with all the rights, privileges and immunities granted corporations of like character under the laws of Georgia.
This 25 day of Sept., 1922.
Shepard Bryan - Judge Superior Court Atlanta Circuit
STATE OF GEORGIA,
COUNTY OF FULTON.
I, T. C. Miller, Clerk Superior Court, Fulton County, Georgia, do hereby certify that the within and foregoing is a true and correct copy of the Application of Geo. A. Poulos et al. to be incorporated under the name and style of
"The American-Hellenic Educational Progressive Association"
with Order thereon granting same, all of which appears of file and record in this office.
Witness, my hand and seal of Office, this the 6th day of July, 1926.
T. C. Miller
Clerk Superior Court, Fulton County, Georgia
The first six members of the Mother Lodge of the Ahepa were Nicholas D. Chotas from Lechaina, Greece; James Campbell from Kakotary; George (Nicopoulos) A. Polos from Karpenisi; Harry Angelopoulos from Divry; John Angelopoulos, from Divry; James Vlass from Ithaca. They employed attorney Carl F. Hutcheson of Atlanta to draw up the application to the State of Georgia for a Charter. After filing for the Charter, and while awaiting its granting, George Campbell and Speros J. Stamos joined the original six, to complete the Ahepa Mother Lodge of eight members.
They then began their meetings at the Atlanta Greek Orthodox Church Hall and School to set forth the objects and purposes of the new association, and to draw up the Constitution and By-Laws, with the help of attorney Carl F. Hutcheson, who was of great assistance to them in establishing the basic principles of the organization.
The First Meetings of Ahepa
The First Meeting (July 26, 1922)
The first meeting of the Order of Ahepa was called to order at 3:00 p.m. on July 26, 1922 at the Greek Orthodox Church Hall in Atlanta, Georgia. Present were: George A. Poulos, Harry Angelopoulos, James Vlass, John Angelopoulos, N. D. Chotas, James Campbell. George A. Poulos presided. (Name changed later to "Polos.")
The Supreme Lodge of the American-Hellenic Educational Progressive Association was organized, and direction given to their counsel to apply to the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia for a Charter. It was decided that this organization would be national in scope, and would be a secret organization. It was decided at this meeting that the purposes of the new association would be:
(a) To advance and promote pure and undefiled Americanism among the Greeks of the United States, its Territories and Colonial possessions;
(b) To educate the Greeks in the matter of democracy, and in the matter of the government of the United States;
(c) To instill the deepest loyalty to the United States;
(d) To promote fraternal sociability;
(e) To practice benevolent aid among this nationality.
It was also decided that the chief functioning body of the new association would be called "The Supreme Lodge." The following were therefore named as "The Supreme Lodge" and its officers and members were:
- Nicholas D. Chotas, Supreme President
- James Campbell, Supreme Vice President
- Harry Angelopoulos, Supreme Secretary & Treasurer
- John Angelopoulos, Supreme Warden
- P. J. Stamos, Supreme Board of Governors
- James Vlass, Supreme Board of Governors
- George A. Poulos, Supreme Board of Governors
- George Campbell, Supreme Board of Governors.
It was also decided that all lodges in the states, and territories were to be known as "Superior Lodges," (the equivalent today of our District Lodges). In addition, the by-laws were made at this first meeting on July 26, 1922:
(a) All Superior Lodges to be created by authority of the Supreme Lodge.
(b) All Subordinate Lodges (or as we know them today, local Chapters) to be created by authority of the Supreme Lodge.
(c) The Board of Governors of the Supreme Lodge shall be the supreme authority of the entire association.
(d) All Superior Lodges, Subordinate Lodges, and all the offices and members shall be under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Lodge.
(e) The Supreme Lodge through its Supreme Board of Governors shall have authority to make contracts for the good, welfare, and promotion of the association, provided that such contracts shall not conflict with the laws of the United States, states and municipalities.
(f) The Supreme Lodge shall have exclusive jurisdiction to fill any vacancies in the Supreme Lodge.
(g) The Supreme Lodge shall have exclusive jurisdiction in making and enforcing all laws of the association, to which the other Lodges will be subject thereto, with no appeal from the final judgement of the Supreme Lodge.
(h) The Supreme Lodge shall have full authority and power to amend, repeal all laws of the association, at all levels.
(i) No Superior Lodge or Subordinate Lodge shall enact any law, rule or regulation in conflict with the laws, rules or regulations of the Supreme Lodge.
(k) The Supreme Lodge shall have, until further provision is made, the exclusive right to establish Superior and Subordinate Lodges.
(i) The Supreme Lodge shall have the exclusive right of granting charters to all lodges.
(m) No person shall hold office in any lodge of the association unless a member in good standing.
(n) Any member of the association in good standing may hold office in the Supreme Lodge, provided he is a past officer of a Superior Lodge, and elected to such office by the Supreme Lodge.
(o) The Headquarters of the Supreme Lodge shall be Atlanta, Ga. Further, at the first meeting, Supreme Warden John Angelopoulos and Supreme Governor George A. Poulos, were appointed unanimously as heads of the Propagation Department with a compensation of $5.00 from the initiation fee of each member of the association. This department was to assume all expenses of propagation (or expansion) and detailed contracts for the department were to be drawn up as soon as possible.
The Second Meeting
July 27, 1922
At this Second Meeting on the following day, the Oath and Obligation of Membership was discussed, but not completed. Different secrets, signs, and signals were adopted, and an emblem consisting of a design including the Statue of Liberty, the American flag, and a sword. It was also decided that Certificates of Membership be given to every member, prepared by the Supreme Lodge, and that no new members would be admitted to the Supreme Lodge for a period of three years, but that annual elections of officers of the Supreme Lodge be held. The meeting was held at the office of the Supreme President.
The Third Meeting
July 31, 1922
The following ten (10) applications for Membership into the association were approved at this meeting, and $100.00 in initiation fees deposited in the treasury: Chris Chotas, M. Stamos, H. Brown, James Verginadis, Nikitas Demos, Tom Datos, Gr. Blatsos, Jerry Vlass, Pete Pappanicolopoulos, and Bill Jones. The Propagation Department, in the person of George A. Poulos, announced that work was being done on the printing of a pamphlet or book on the history of America, the Constitution, and the various departments of government, for distribution to prospective members. It was stated that the book would be printed in both English and Greek languages.
Supreme President Chotas asked that "American born" persons be admitted as members of the association and this was unanimously approved. (Although the association was formed initially for the Greeks of America, only 5 days after forming the new association, the Supreme Lodge decided wisely and properly that membership would not be restricted to the Greek in America, but would be open to those not of Greek descent.) It was also decided that three blackballs would be needed to reject any application for membership, with voting on such membership applications to be held by secret ballot. And a bankaccount was opened at the Lowry National Bank.
The Fourth Meeting
August 2, 1922
The Fourth Meeting was opened at 4 p.m. on August 2nd, and the Oath of membership was approved in both the English and the Greek languages. The membership application of Nicholas Rigas was approved.
The Fifth Meeting
August 14, 1922
The Fifth Meeting was held on August 14, 1922, and the following applications for Membership were approved: Frank Matrangos, Theodore Athan, Charles Keramidas, George Lachanos, Nick Antonopoulos, Dennis Carras, Niarhos Kolokuris, and Eli Kavouras. A contract with the Propagation Department was approved.
A resolution from the Junior Order of United American Mechanics (O.U.A.M.) commending the association for its establishment and for its principles, was read. The by-laws of the Subordinate Lodges were approved. Directions were given that proper equipTilent and paraphernalia be secured as soon as possible, so that the initiations of the approved applicants for membership could be held as early as possible.
The Sixth Meeting
August 19, 1922
In appreciation of services rendered to the Supreme Lodge and the association, Honorary Memberships in Atlanta, Georgia Chapter No. 1 were awarded to C. E. Allen of the Lowry National Bank, and Carl Hutcheson, attorney. (The association had Honorary Memberships during its first formative years, however, such Honorary Memberships were abolished by convention action a few years later. Today, the Order of Ahepa does not offer Honorary Memberships, but requires that all members must be active, and dues-paying.)
Because of financial obligations, authorization was given to secure a loan of $500.00 to carry on the fraternity's work. Discussion was held on assisting members of the fraternity to secure their citizenship papers, and a program was set in motion. Applications for membership of the following were then approved: Victor Retsinas, Dennis Vlass, James Soteres, Tom Jinis, Pete Mitchell, and Const. Vacalis.
The Seventh Meeting
August 22, 1922
A report was given on the requirements for citizenship, and for voting in elections. It was reported that the loan of $500 had been secured and deposited in the association account. The membership application of Anthony Rumanes was approved. The initiation for the new members was set for August 24, at the Red Men's Wigwam No. 86, on Central Avenue.
The Supreme Lodge then suggested the names of the following candidates as nominations for the officers of the first Subordinate Lodge, or Chapter No. 1, Atlanta, Ga.: Eli Kavouras, Dennis Carras, Pete Pappanicolopoulos, Cris Chotas, Constantine Vacalis, Charles Keramidas, Nicholas Rigas, and Nick Kelly. The Propagation Department, now called Organization Department, was granted a loan of $150 for 60 days at 8% interest, to continue their work.
The Eighth Meeting
August 24, 1922
This Special Meeting was called by the Supreme Lodge to initiate candidates for Chapter No. 1, Atlanta, Ga. Applications for membership were approved for: J. Bill Efstathiou, Nick Manesis, and Charles Drakos. Eighteen candidates were then initiated. The following were elected as the Board of Governors of Chapter No. 1: Charles Drakos, Eli Kavouras, Constantine Vacalis, Nick Regas, N. Kolocouris, Dennis Carras, Harry Brown, and James Verginadis, and the new Chapter membership was officially welcomed into the new association, and congratulated.
The Ninth Meeting
August 28, 1922
This was a joint meeting of the Board of Governors of the Supreme Lodge, and the Board of Governors of Atlanta Lodge No. 1, and was held at the Greek School House. It was unanimously approved that Charles Keramidas be nominated for the Atlanta Lodge Board of Governors at the next meeting of that Lodge. It was also approved that a committee of Three be appointed by the Atlanta Lodge to pass upon all applications for membership submitted, and refer their decisions to their next meeting for membership approval. The By-laws were then read and explained to the Atlanta Lodge Board of Governors. A decision was also made to purchase the various paraphernalia that had been rented for use at the initiations.
The Tenth Meeting
August 31, 1922
An amendment was made at this meeting to the By-laws, and changed to now read: "Any past president of the association in good standing may hold office in the Supreme Lodge provided he is elected to such office by the Governors of the Supreme Lodge." An emergency meeting was called for Friday, September 1st.
The Eleventh Meeting
September 1, 1922
This was again a joint meeting of the Supreme Lodge and the Atlanta Lodge No. 1. Various parts of the By-laws were discussed, and comments were made by some present that too much power was vested in the Supreme Lodge, given in Article 16 of the By-laws. A decision was then made to amend Article 16 so that the delegates to the Supreme Lodge at the annual national convention shall have the right to vote on all laws and amendments regarding the Subordinate Lodges, and that each member of the Supreme Lodge shall have a vote in that convention. Also, that any finances handled by the Supreme Lodge, excepting operating expenses, shall be subject to the majority vote of the convention delegates; however, until such delegates are created and a convention held, such authority shall remain with the Supreme Lodge.
The Twelfth Meeting
September 11, 1922
Thirteen applications for membership were approved at this meeting as follows: Pete K. Priles, Charlie Balekas, Nick Christofides, Themistocles Routsos, Nick Matrangos, John Lenakis, Em. Zimarakis, James Cotsakis, Gost Konstantinou, George Reskos, P.Pappadopoulos, George Manos, and George Pappas. Supreme Secretary-Treasurer H. Angelopoulos was asked to assume the duties of secretary for Atlanta Lodge No. 1, and he agreed to assist in its work. This meeting was also a joint meeting of both units.
The Thirteenth Meeting
October 9, 1922
The Constitution and By-laws of both the Supreme Lodge, and the Subordinate Lodge were voted and passed. The $10,000 bond of the Propagation Department was reduced from $10,000 to $5,000 and a minimum of 1,000 members for the first year was set as a goal. The regular meeting for Atlanta Lodge No. 1 was then set for Friday, October 13. Applications for membership were approved for Chris Anastopoulos and Charles Menias.
The Fourteenth Meeting
October 11, 1922
The membership applications of Byron Souders and John F. Burdine were approved. Lengthy discussion was held on the contract and plans of the Propagation Department.
The Fifteenth Meeting
This was a meeting of Atlanta Lodge No. 1 in which discussion was held on expanding the Lodge's membership, and plans put into effect.
The Sixteenth Meeting
October 30, 1922
The Supreme Lodge authorized Supreme President Chotas to appoint George A. Poulos as Supreme Deputy with the duties of "assisting the Supreme President in his work; have the power of representing the Supreme President and act for him under his instructions in installing new Lodges, delivering Charters to same" and the appointment took effect Nov. 3, 1922.
The Seventeenth Meeting
November 14, 1922
George A. Poulos reported that Charlotte, North Carolina Lodge No. 2 had been established with 45 members, and that the membership included many prominent persons not of Greek descent. Byron Souders and John F. Burdine were elected Councilors to the Supreme Lodge.
The Eighteenth Meeting
November 16, 1922
This was a joint meeting of the Supreme Lodge and Atlanta Lodge No. 1. Membership applications of the following were approved: George Brown, John Grisz, Tom Skouteris, D. Psaroudakis, Chris Carlos, Adamantios Lamos and Frank Belieu. Ten new candidates were initiated that evening. Honorary speaker of the evening was J. O. Wood, who spoke on the duties of citizenship. Due to resignation of officers, the following new Atlanta Lodge officers were elected: Dr. Belieu, President; George Brown, Treasurer; Jerry Vlass, Bill Jones and Chris Carlos, Governors.
The Nineteenth Meeting
November 19, 1922
This was an "Open Meeting" held at the Red Men's Wigman, to which non-members were invited to hear speakers. John F. Burdine and George A. Poulos spoke on the purposes and benefits of the A.H.E.P.A. In response to an inquiry from the audience as to why the discussions were not held in the Greek language, J. O. Wood replied that this was the very point of the new association, to encourage the Greek-American to speak the English language, especially when he is in his place of business or among others who do not know the language, and he emphasized that good command of the English language was essential for the Greek-American in his business and community life.
The Twentieth Meeting
November 21, 1922
This was a joint meeting of the Supreme Lodge and Atlanta Lodge. The new set of Rituals were read and approved by the Supreme Lodge, and ordered to be printed. Mr. Burdine read a notice from the Birmingham, Ala. paper, and stated that George A. Poulos was almost ready to install Lodge No. 3 in Birmingham. Dr. Belieu suggested that the Atlanta Lodge hold regular luncheon meetings as soon as the membership was large enough, and that the net proceeds be donated to local institutions.
The Twenty-first Meeting
December 1, 1922
This entire meeting was devoted to rehearsal of ritualistic ceremonies, with only officers present of both the Supreme Lodge and Atlanta Lodge.
The Twenty-second Meeting
January 8, 1923
At this Supreme Lodge meeting lengthy discussion was held on the results of the Propagation Department and its financial condition, and the Initiation Fee was raised to $20.00 for new members.
The costs of the "Propagation" or Organization Department which had the responsibility of establishing new Lodges were running proportionately higher than its earned income from initiation fees, and the Department was reorganized with new personnel.
At the meeting of May 7, 1923, H. I. North and George A. Poulos were given the responsibility for running the Organization Department; and at this meeting it was also strongly suggested that a National Convention be called as soon as possible, with delegates from established Lodges. P. J. Stamos was elected Supreme Secretary at the June 19, 1923 meeting, after the resignation of Harry Angelopoulos from that office.
The First Anniversary
The First Anniversary of the association was celebrated with a Church mass, followed by a picnic at the Greek Farm, Utoy Springs.
In July of 1923, the Supreme Lodge adopted "The American Hellenic News" as the official organ of the association.
Again, dissatisfaction was expressed by the Supreme Lodge with the results of the Organization Department under its new officers, and the contract between the Supreme Lodge and the Organization Department was cancelled by the Supreme Lodge. In addition, instructions were given that future funds paid by Subordinate Lodges for initiation fees of new members be paid to the Supreme Lodge Treasury, and not to the Organization Department.
Meeting of August 17, 1923
This special meeting of the Supreme Lodge was held at the offices of the Organization Department, and called to discuss the serious status of the association, insofar as finances were concerned. Supreme Treasurer Harry Angelopoulos gave a financial picture of the Organization Department and of the association in general, and recommended that a National Convention be called as soon as possible, if the Association was to be saved and continue in existence. The motion to hold a National Convention was passed unanimously, and the Supreme Secretary was instructed to contact all Lodges, and determine the most appropriate date for the convention.
The First Year
July 26, 1922 - October 15, 1923
During the first year of this new association, the results of the Supreme Lodge's efforts were: 32 Subordinate Lodges established, and 1,300 members initiated. These Subordinate Lodges were:
Despite such an outstanding accomplishment in the first year of 32 Subordinate Lodges, or Chapters, as they are called today by the fraternity, the Supreme Lodge found itself faced with financial problems, resulting in the calling of the First National Convention (or Supreme Conventions as they are now called.)
The costs of organizing new Lodges were greater than the income received from the initiation fees paid to the Propagation Department, which had an office and personnel to maintain. This Department was reorganized at least once, but the financial crisis remained.
It must be remembered that the idea of organizations, societies, and village-oriented and province-oriented associations was not a new thought among the Greeks in the United States, in the year 1922.
Many of these societies were founded as early as 1900, and even in previous years, in the larger cities. Efforts to establish a national association that would embrace all Greek immigrants was started by Michael Anagnos prior to 1910, and such an association was begun shortly after his death, with local units in many parts of the country. However, the emphasis of this Pan Hellenic Union was on the ties of the Greek immigrant with his homeland, and during the Balkan Wars of 1912 the Pan Hellenic Union was used as a recruiting office for Greek immigrants wishing to return to Greece and fight in the war. It offered welfare benefits also to its members. The Union lasted for a few years, and finally died out.
Topika somateia, either village-oriented groups, or province groups, were also spread everywhere in the cities. These, of course, also emphasized their direct ties with Greece.
Greek Associations in the United States
Despite the fact that the total number of Greek immigrants to the United States ranks in the lower percentage of total immigration, the establishment of Greek-American associations on both national and local levels ranks the highest among any immigrant groups. Although many such associations or societies gradually disappeared over the years, there are records that indicate the existence of the following as of the year 1965:
Besides the Order of Ahepa, there were: Gapa (Greek American Progressive Association), Achaian, Arcadian, Aesclipian, Thessalian, Anatoliki Roumelia, Andros, Ararchoviton, Argeion Danaos, Athenians, Chian, Cretan, Calavriton, Castorians, Corinthians, Cephalonians, Eleians, Epirotes, Eubean, Evritanans, Icarians, Constantinople Society, lonicon, Kalymnion, Kassian, Korfian, Kozaniton, Laconians, Lesvians, Lymnians, Lacedaemon, Macedonian, Messinian, Micrasiatic, Thracian, Magoulioton, Mantinioton, Monemvasioton, Naxion, Naupactian, Pontian, Rhodian, Siatisteon, Spetsioton, Stereoelladition, Samian, Tilians, Thessalian, United Cyprians, Vroiseon Anavrites, Zakynthians.
The Ahepa, with its program of Americanism, the use of the English language, its assertion of being non-political and non-sectarian, struck many Greek-Americans as being heretical and it was bitterly criticized in many quarters, including the Greek newspapers in America.
Despite this opposition, the Founders of Ahepa knew and felt deeply the courage of their convictions, and continued their oftentimes seemingly hopeless efforts to build solid foundations for their brainchild.
Some of the new members who joined during that first 15 months of the new organization could not withstand the criticism that was being levelled at them, and dropped out. Only those who knew from past experiences that the Ahepa was based upon the only precepts which could bring together Americans of Greek descent into a common organization that would withstand time and criticism, held fast and kept the faith.
Today, looking back into those years of 1922 and 1923, it may be difficult for one to understand why the new association was the object of bitter criticism, but if one places himself in that era, as an immigrant recently arrived, or arrived within a few years from Greece, the picture does become clearer. The Greek immigrant did not leave Greece because of political oppression there, nor because of dissatisfaction with his government. He left Greece as a most patriotic citizen of Greece; but he left for economic reasons, and for work, so that he could send money back to his family and relatives in the village, and return one day, himself, with funds to make a better life in Greece.
Although probably most Greek immigrants had by the year 1922 decided that America was now their land, and here they would stay, yet there were many who still dreamed with fond hopes of returning to Greece and consequently the principles of Ahepa rankled and seemed revolutionary to them, and they felt early resentment of an association which was trying to "Americanize" the Greek.
The task of "selling" the idea of Ahepa to the Greek in America was, therefore, a difficult and sometimes thankless one. The "miracle" of Ahepa is that it did not die, but that we can today celebrate its Golden Anniversary.
The First Supreme Convention
The First National (Supreme) Convention was held in Atlanta, Georgia, October 15-17, 1923.
Meeting at Chamber of Commerce
October 15, 1923
The meeting was called to order by President N. D. Chotas at 9:30 with invocation by Judge Well. Mr. Carl Hutcheson of Atlanta then gave the delegates a very warm welcome to Atlanta as the representative of the Mayor. The keynote of Mr. Hutcheson 's address was "loyalty" to Old Glory. Mr. Chotas tendered the thanks of the convention to Mr. Hutcheson for his very gracious welcome.
Hon. Hooper Alexander was then introduced and made the most inspiring address, gave a brief history of the Greek nation and its realm of art, science, literature and religion. He then touched upon the organization of the A.H.E.P.A., and pictured in a vivid way its opportunities and possibilities for service to the world.
After Mr. Alexander's address, Judge H. N. Wells of New York City moved that the Convention extend a rising vote of thanks to Mr. Alexander for such a soul-stirring address. President Chotas then read a message of greeting from Congressman William D. Upshaw and Rev. Pappinakis of Charlotte, in which they expressed their warm and sympathetic cooperation. President George Demeter of Boston Lodge then responded in a wonderful way to the speeches of the morning, on behalf of the delegates.
Mr. Demeter was followed by Judge H. N. Wells of New York, who made a most helpful and inspiring address, in which he scored the "cheap" patriot, but expressed all love for the loyal patriot. Judge Wells was followed by Mr. C. R. Nixon of Tulsa, Okla., who painted a vivid picture of the condition among the Greek as it exists in Oklahoma today. Mr. Nixon expressed deep interest in this Association and great confidence in its possibilities. He said that they would have been working harder in Oklahoma if he had known that the Association really meant so much -- but since he had come to Atlanta and seen what it was, and how ,those interested were working -- that Tulsa could be counted on a hundred percent to do everything in her power from now on.
President John DeMos of Jacksonville Lodge then made a most interesting talk, telling of a vision of such an organization that he had some twenty years ago, and how it thrilled him to be in such a meeting and literally see those dreams come true.
President Chotas then introduced Mr. Fred Houser of the Atlanta Convention Bureau, who made a snappy and helpful talk about the value of get-together meetings. Dr. G. M. Saliba then was asked to speak and responded by echoing the sentiments of Mr. Nixon of Tulsa.
Mr. Ben Davis of Birmingham Lodge then made a most thrilling address, which was a great source of inspiration to every man present. Mr. Davis is a particularly forceful speaker. There were many other interesting and helpful talks and the meeting was adjourned by the singing of "America" led by Mr. C.R. Nixon of Tulsa. (Note: above are minutes kept of the Luncheon meeting at the Chamber of Commerce)
Address of Welcome - N. D. Chotas, Supreme President
First Supreme Convention
As your Supreme President of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association, it becomes my very pleasant and official duty to welcome my Brothers to this, the first Annual Convention, of what we hope will be the greatest dominant influence ever to come into the lives of the Americanized Hellene.
Little did we realize, scarcely more than 12 months ago, when we started this wonderful movement, that the first gathering of representatives of our Subordinate Lodges would bring together such a splendid group of men, from such a large section of this glorious country. While we planned and hoped for strength to carry forward our work successfully, we hardly expected, even in our most optimistic mood, to achieve the accomplishments which have been written into our history during the past year.
I can find no words strong enough to express the deep emotion and genuine affection I feel for those of you who sit here at a personal sacrifice, in order that you may render a service to those who need it. It has been written that -- 'No Greater love hath any man than this -- that he give his life for his friends.’ And surely, my Brothers, you are living examples of that maxim.
If you will permit me, I wish to look back for a few moments, and briefly review the history of the A.H.E.P.A.
The Greek, as a people, has been immigrating to the United States in considerable numbers for approximately thirty years. We are, you might say, the newest of American immigrants. Coming from a bleak and barren land, where education was attained only at a sacrifice, and where luxuries were practically unknown, we were hardly in a position to fit into the customs of the great American people, as have most of the other nationalities who have immigrated to this country. And yet, throughout the past thirty years, the Greek has not only succeeded in overcoming these handicaps, but has established himself solidly in the commercial life of the American nation, and earned an enviable reputation as a peaceful and constructive citizen. He has, as a people, I dare say, a better record for accomplishments than any of his European brothers. The marvel of this is, that the Greek has succeeded individually, and without cooperative assistance which has helped other nationalities make progress in this great land.
During these thirty years, many of our countrymen have dreamed of an improved condition among the Greek, and have visualized the Greek as a United people, and have seen in their dreams, the Greek move forward to a political and social success equal to that which he has obtained commercially.
It is a most unfortunate fact, that up until the 26th day of July, 1922, no definite, tangible step had ever been taken to unite the Greek in a secret Fraternity, that would have for its ultimate purpose their advancement into a higher morality and civilization. Several attempts had been made to bring the Greek people together in Unions and Societies, for political and other purposes. But these, as you know, were miserable failures, because they were not inspired by the lofty ideals on which must be built the successful Brotherhood of Man.
Realizing the numerous failures that had been made by those who had previously attempted to organize the Greek, those who were responsible for the birth of this great Association determined that it should be built on a solid foundation, of an unbiased bond of Brotherly Love and Cooperation. With this principal thought in our minds, eight of us applied to the State of Georgia for a Charter which would permit us to attempt the organization of this Fraternity.
I shall not encroach upon your time by recounting the numerous obstacles we confronted, nor the many draw backs which at times called for all the courage we possessed. It will suffice to say that we, each of us, pledged to the other the best effort of which we were capable, and with an initial fund of eighty dollars ($80.00) we attempted the organization of the City of Atlanta!
It has been said that: 'A Prophet is not without honor in his own country' and we certainly found this to be true. For after months of diligent effort, we were rewarded with only suspicion and criticism from those to whom we looked for help and cooperation.
We then found it necessary to seek other fields in the attempt to realize our ideals. It was therefore in Birmingham, Alabama, from the worthy President of our Subordinate Lodge there, that we received our first encouragement and placed the first stone in this great structure.
Lacking experience and capital, we found our path strewn with the almost insurmountable obstacles of political prejudice, mercenary suspicions, and lack of interest brought about by the slanderous statements of those who refused to understand our purpose. Thoroughly convinced, however, of the great necessity for an organization of this nature, and fully conscious of the justice of the project, we persevered. The result of that perseverance is to be found in your attendance here today. You Brothers represent the commendable pioneer, who saw the Mountain of Gold behind the Rain Cloud!
I believe I can modestly say that we have advanced, and accomplished more, during the first year of our existence, than any other Fraternity in history. We look forward to a most brilliant future – a future filled with accomplishments brought about by your intelligent cooperation and enthusiastic encouragement. And when this Convention has adjourned, we hope that we shall deserve to have you say -- "Well done, thou good and faithful servant!"
Secretary's Report - Supreme Secretary, P. J. Stamos
First Supreme Convention
The A.H.E.P.A. was incorporated July 26, 1922. Its Charter permits it to organize Lodges in accordance with its By-laws and Constitution, throughout the United States and its possessions.
The incorporators were:
George A. Poulos
N. D. Chotas - President
P. J. Stamos - Secretary
Each of the above contributed the sum of $10.00 as an Initiation Fee to be used to defray the expense of organizing the City of Atlanta, and proclaimed themselves the Supreme Lodge, or governing body, of the Association.
Secretary's Report (Continued on Page 168)
Photo to be inserted
1931 - Members of the Mother Lodge with Supreme President Harris J. Booras on the steps of the Atlanta Greek Orthodox Church
Photo to be inserted
1923 - The Atlanta, Georgia Chapter No. 1 Ahepa Patrol and Chapter Officers and members of the Atlanta Greek Orthodox Church, September 14, 1923
Photo to be inserted
Year 1922. The Greek Orthodox Church of Atlanta, Ga., where the first meetings were held by the Mother Lodge, establishing the Order of Ahepa in 1922.
Secretary's Report (Continued from Page 166)
The work of organizing Atlanta progressed very slowly. Those who were approached hesitated to form an Atlanta Lodge because of a lack of confidence in their ability to do something that had been tried many times before without success. These people also refused to believe the incorporators of the association capable of extending it successfully. Persistent and hard work on the part of the Supreme Lodge was finally rewarded with success and on August 24, 1922, twenty (20) applicants, together with the Supreme Lodge, took the Oath and Obligation.
With the funds obtained from these twenty applicants, Brother Poulos visited Birmingham, Alabama. Several talks with prominent Greeks and Americans in that city convinced him that the task of organizing the Greek people of America was going to be a huge one, and that considerable money would be needed. Brother Poulos returned to Atlanta and placed the situation before the Supreme Lodge, who authorized him to secure, if possible, sufficient capital to at least organize our home state.
On October 11, 1922, Brother Polos presented to the Supreme Lodge the proposition of Byron Sanders and John F. Burdine, two American Shriners who were lavish in their promises. Mr. Sanders agreed to back our work to the limit, providing Mr. Burdine was placed in charge and certain changes in the By-laws made. After several discussions with competent legal advisors, the Supreme Lodge entered into a joint contract with Brother Polos, Brother John Angelopoulos, who had previously provided financial assistance, Mr. Sanders and Mr. Burdine, in effect as follows:
1. Mr. Sanders to finance the work
2. Mr. Burdine to direct the work
3. Brother Polos and Brother Angelopoulos to go into the field as organizers
4. One-half of all Initiation Fees to go to the above to defray expenses incurred
Offices were established in the Flatiron Building, our present Headquarters, and work begun. Feeling that those in charge of our work were capable and sincere, Brother Polos returned to Birmingham, and Brother Angelopoulos went to North and South Carolina. Both did excellent work, but accomplished no immediate results. After several weeks the Supreme Lodge realized that Sanders and Burdine were not putting forth the proper effort. Brothers Polos and Angelopoulos were recalled from the field, and at a special meeting, matters were discussed thoroughly. Sanders and Burdine explained their lack of effort by saying that it was utterly impossible for them to carry on with a fee of $10.00, of which they only received $5.00. Numerous other concessions were asked for and granted by the Supreme Lodge. Accordingly, the Initiation Fee was advanced from $10.00 to $20.00. Before this became effective, however, Charlotte, North Carolina had responded and the Second Lodge of our Association established there. Birmingham followed closely behind. The new fee became effective January 8, 1923, with the finances of the Association in a most precarious condition.
Throughout this period of time, internal disturbances arose. Sanders and Burdine began to drift apart, accusing each other of slothfulness and selfishness. On February 14, 1923, Brother Polos officially called the attention of the Supreme Lodge to the lack of harmony and effort in the Organization Department. A dismal and uncertain future threatened to disrupt our movement.
It was at this point that Howard Irwin North, our present Director of Organization, entered the field. He visited Savannah as a Deputy Organizer and successfully installed the first Lodge to pay the increased fee of $20.00. Brother North next visited Jacksonville and Memphis, with successful results. It was shortly after the Memphis installation, that Brother North realized that conditions at Headquarters were not in a healthy condition. He therefore returned to Atlanta and refused to do anything further until matters were adjusted as to permit him to go to the Greeks of America with the honest conviction that this Association would really be the great Fraternity he believed it would be.
After several conferences between Brother Polos and Brother North, the Supreme Lodge was advised of the existing difference,; between Sanders and Burdine. An investigation confirmed the statements of Brothers North and Polos. It was then decided that the contract then existing had been seriously violated and it was considered null and void. Brother Polos and Brother Angelopoulos willingly surrendered their claim for the good of the movement, but Burdine and Sanders began a series of threats which sorely embarrassed the Supreme Lodge for a long time.
On March 23, 1923, Brother North assumed charge of the Organization Department. He agreed to devote his entire time and ability to the advancement of our work, for an expense allowance not to exceed $10 per day. The Department was immediately reorganized and interest revived. The work moved forward successfully. The question of finances again arose, however, and since those at the head of the movement had repeatedly said that no one should profit from the monies received, Brother North's remuneration was revised and a contract entered into whereby he and Brother Polos were to shoulder the entire burden of carrying on, on a percentage basis.
An advance personal loan of $1,000.00 on April 28, 1923, enabled Brothers Polos and North to lay concrete plans for extensive work. Since that day we have progressed harmoniously and solidly. Although the Organization Department is indebted today to the Supreme Lodge, it has paid back the loan of $1,000.00 and accomplished really wonderful results under the direction of Brother North. Before his appointment, we were barely represented in three cities after seven month's work at a cost of about $2,500.00. Since his appointment on March 23, 1923, seven months ago, we have organized 29 Lodges in 14 States at a cost of approximately $9,000.00. These are not exact figures-the Supreme Treasurer's Report will give you those. I merely quote these amounts to show you that we are justified in claiming that we have accomplished more during the past seven months than any other Fraternity ever organized. Brothers North and Polos have worked hard and harmoniously together -- and the Supreme Lodge has given all it possibly can to help them. Your Supreme Lodge Officers have made many sacrifices in order that this work might go forward. We have suffered untold worries -- but the realization that we are on the verge of a great national success more than repays us. Our roster contains more than 1,300 names and there are more than 1,000 applicants ready to join our ranks just as soon as we can administer the Oath to them. This, as you will readily understand gives us a strength that will bring to life every community in this country.
In submitting this report to ·you, I do so, proud of the accomplishments of those in charge of this work and with the hope that you will find it satisfactory. We have assisted materially in helping the sick and needy. We have used our good offices successfully in helping those in trouble. We are directly responsible for the creation of more than 100 new citizens. Our best accomplishment, however, has been the establishment of Schools for our Brothers in each city where we have a subordinate Lodge under the supervision of the Local Boards of Education and in direct connection with the U.S. Naturalization Department in Washington.
A National Publication for the benefit of our brothers and the public in general is issued semi-monthly and we modestly declare that we have brought the Greek people and the Americans much closer together than they have ever been befOregon Our work during the past year, however, has been one of organization rather than one of fraternal benevolence. It is the sincere desire of the Supreme Lodge that the Delegates here assembled will formulate such legislation as will enable our Association to actively pursue a policy of general benevolence and welfare.
P. J. Stamos
Photo to be inserted
Mother Lodge members and chapter delegates at the First Ahepa Supreme Convention, held in Atlanta, Ga., October 14-17, 1923.
Photo to be inserted
Ahepa wreath ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery, September, 1924. Nicholas D. Chotas, Harry Coroneos, George Demeter, John Angelopoulos, Rev. P. Constantinides.
Photo to be inserted
Supreme Lodge at 1925 Chicago Convention: Coronis, Critzas, Willias, Loumos, Chebithes, Nickas, Stephos, Psaki, Angelopoulos, Karambelas.
Photo to be inserted
1925 convention: Brothers Karambelas, Yavis, Dedopoulos, Gounaris, Primbas, Stratis, Stavropoulos. (Back row) Notarys, DeVakos, Petrou, Demas, Peppas, Perivolas.
The First Convention
Attending the First Convention in Atlanta, Ga. were the members of the Supreme Lodge, and the following "Subordinate Lodge" delegates:
H. I. North, Atlanta, Ga. #1; H. G. Link, Jr., Charlotte, N.C. #2; Ben Davis and Arthur Greenwood, Birmingham, Ala., #3; C. M. Cockinos, Charleston, S.C. #4; Dr. G. M. Saliba, Savannah, Ga. #5; John Young, Memphis, Tenn. #7; D. Lorant, Shreveport, La. #8; George S. Smitzes, Tampa, Fla. #12; C. R. Nixon, Tulsa, Okla., #13; George Catsaros, Miami, Fla., #14; Willis Gastaing, Tarpon Springs, Fla., #16; George Demeter, Boston, Mass., #24; H. N. Wells and S. Retsinopoulos, New York City #25; George Tsekuras and M. Kyriazakos, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania #26; and I. Arakas, Asheville, N.C. #28. There were 8 Delegates from the Supreme Lodge, 19 Subordinate Lodge delegates, for a total of 27 delegates at the First Convention.
The new Supreme Lodge elected at this first convention was:
Hugh N. Wells, Supreme President;
John DeMos, Supreme Vice President;
Soterios Retsinopoulos, Supreme Secretary;
Harry Coroneos, Supreme Treasurer;
and the following Supreme Governors:
C. R. Nixon,
Dr. G. M. Saliba,
Charles Kirby, and
In addition, the eight members of the original Supreme Lodge, remained as Supreme Lodge members, giving a total of twenty members on this Supreme Lodge.
The convention amended the Constitution of the Order to provide that "all Past Supreme Lodge officers are ex-officio members of the Supreme Lodge, and the Convention.
Following the convention, the association Headquarters was moved to Philadelphia, under the direction of H. N. Wells, the new Supreme President.
From November, 1923 to March, 1924, the organization of Chapters (Subordinate Lodges) was started at:
Again, the fraternity found itself in dire financial straits, with expenditures far exceeding income. The Supreme Lodge then met in Philadelphia on March 3-5, 1924. After much discussion, and review of the condition of the fraternity, a vote of confidence was asked by Supreme Vice President DeMos, and it was 7-3 against Supreme President Wells. He was voted out of office by the Supreme Lodge members present, by the same vote of 7-3. The ten Supreme Lodge officers present at this meeting were: Supreme President Wells; Supreme Vice President DeMos; Supreme Secretary Retsinopoulos; Supreme Treasurer Coroneos; Supreme Governors Kirby, Saliba, and Demeter; and "Mother Lodge" members Nicholas D. Chotas, George A. Polos, and James Campbell. After the vote, Supreme Secretary Retsinopoulos and Supreme Vice President DeMos, resigned.
New Supreme Lodge
Following elections, the new Supreme Lodge was then:
George Demeter, Supreme President;
Dr. G. M. Saliba, Supreme Vice President;
Nicholas D. Chotas, Supreme Secretary;
Harry Coroneos, Supreme Treasurer;
C. R. Nixon, Supreme Counsellor;
George Campbell, Supreme Warden;
Supreme Governors George A. Polos, C. M. Cockinos, Arthur Greenwood, Ben Davis, Charles Kirby, Arthur Greenwood;
Supreme Chaplain P. Constantinides.
In 1924, the following new Chapters were started and added to the roster:
Several bulletins and two magazines, "The Victory" and "Convention" editions, were published also during these six months. A Special Convention Edition "The Ahepa" was published in September, 1924 (which Past Supreme President George Demeter was kind enough to furnish Ahepa Headquarters, since no other copy was on file there). The magazine was published just prior to the Washington, D.C. convention, held on Sept. 21-25, 1924. Some excerpts from that 50 page edition are given to indicate some of the activity.
Ahepa Chapters numbered exactly 50 at that time. Milwaukee chapter established the Fond du Lac, Wisconsin chapter, also planned a drill team, its first picnic, and a theatre benefit party ... Brother Seraphim G. Canoutas of New York City #25 is cited for his column in The National Herald newspaper "Eleftheron Berna" which gave invaluable advice to Greek immigrants on law, medicine, government, business, immigration and other subjects.
A special lecture to Ahepa candidates by Joseph Papador of Milwaukee, Wisconsin #43 includes the following:
This Order does not consist merely of ceremonies of initiation. Its purpose is to unite a certain group of good, conscientious men and make better citizens out of them. We do not expect perfection, for none of us is perfect. But we do want to impress upon you, in the strongest manner possible, that the Obligation you have just taken expects and demands of you to be good citizens -- law-abiding, progressive, industrious, clean-cut men. That such are your intentions, we entertain no doubt."
Manchester, N.H. already boasts of a membership of 70 members, only two and a half months after its establishment.
Supreme President George Demeter, the Editor of this special 1924 Convention magazine, writes an editorial entitled: "Why Greek Organizations Fail!"
Some excerpts from this message are:
The question still lingers in our mind 'Why Greek Organizations Fail?' At least one thousand Greek organizations have been started in this country and all of them disappeared after a short period of existence. At the present time there isn't a single local, state or national Greek organization -- except The Ahepa -- that really functions as an organization should ... Now what are the real causes of the destruction of Greek organizations?
Disobedience or insubordination is the principal and most frequent cause. The Greek does not disobey or violate the laws of any nation. This is true. He is inherently a law-abiding citizen. He does, however, disobey and violate most shamefully the laws, rules, and regulations of a small institution of government such as his local Greek business or social organization. In this respect he is glaringly insubordinate. He is independent and indifferent. The Greek will not understand the word subordinate. He will never acknowledge that it means 'submission to authority.' He will not carry out the instructions of his superior officers.
It must not be understood from the foregoing paragraph that the Greek is insubordinate to the laws of his American organizations. The Masons, the Elks, the Knights of Pythias and other prominent brotherhoods acclaim the Greek as a most loyal and obedient member of their Order. He pays his annual dues promptly, he respects the decision of his officers implicitly and contributes all his moral support towards the preservation and perpetuation of the principles of his American fraternity.
All this the Greek does in his American Order. But he is an entirely different man when he finds himself in his own Greek organization. He fails to respond to any payments, he challenges his officers' judgement and humbles them, if he can, he kills worthy purposes and dislikes to have his organization become permanent. What is the reason for this sort of conduct? Jealousy! That's what wipes out the Greek organizations. Petty jealousy has buried innumerable worthy institutions.
The Greek is not jealous of his Worshipful Master in Masonry, his Exalted Ruler in the Elks, or his President in the Ahepa Chapter. But he is jealous of the President of his local Greek club or society. If he can't be the President he won't have anyone else hold that position … He will have his idol. If it isn't the venerate King, it is the eminent Premier. This idolization is perpetual. ... The excessive attachment which the Greek has for his idol has been responsible for the downfall of hundreds of well-founded Greek organizations, including the Greek nation … He will even go so far as to disregard completely the ability, loyalty or fitness of his idol for the reward he seeks.
Thank God that The Ahepa is an American institution and not a Greek organization! The Ahepans experience but few such dangers, for they will neither incite them or tolerate them."
It must be noted that one reason for Ahepa's successful progress is the early years of 1922-1925 was the fact that specific Constitutional regulations were laid down, and enforced, concerning chapter conduct, membership, duties and obligations, and that meetings as well as all ceremonial rites were carried out in proper correctness. Roberts' Rules of Order governed the chapter meetings, and later in Ahepa's history, the fraternity adopted "Demeter's Rules of Parliamentary Law – as its parliamentary governing book of rules. (Published by George Demeter, Past Supreme President).
Bill Rallis, of Parsons, Kansas, was a noted professional athlete and wrestler, who earned national championships in his class. He was initiated in Shreveport, La. #8, in 1924 and gave a benefit show there with all proceeds going to the benefit of the Shreveport Greek Church ... The Lieutenant Governor and the Attorney General of Massachusetts attended the first banquet of the Boston, Mass. chapter. ...
James Kakridas of the Boston chapter speaks out in 1924:
For God's sake can't we realize that The Ahepa is a jewel, a priceless gift and our only and greatest asset? We must achieve a big organization -- for our own sake, for our families' sake, for our relatives' sake. Let us live as in one big, happy family, with brothers all over the country! Keep out the dangerous characters, the disobedient, the wicked, the disorderly. Shut out the stubborn and those who are incapable of receiving instruction, light and knowledge! Let us forget the past! Let's bury this dangerous element -- jealousy! Let us cooperate; let us esteem each other; let us work together and in harmony! If this is done, we will all of us live a better life.
President D. C. Vasiliow of the Lynn, Mass. Chapter #50 writes in 1924:
Let us cooperate! Cooperation is among the most fundamental of the needs of mankind. By cooperation, we can succeed, and in order to succeed, we must forget our political and commercial sentiments for these are the enemies that we have to meet -- and beat. Let us prove our loyalty to this great adopted country of ours! Every Greek an American citizen -- in fact, -- not in name alone!
Another article in that 1924 magazine states that:
Greek politics do not permit the establishment of a Chapter of the Ahepa in Lowell, Massachusetts. Every one knows what is meant by 'Greek politics.' The so-called Venizelists and Royalists of Lowell have not yet settled their traditional political differences, and until they do the National Office of the Ahepa will not authorize or permit a Chapter to be established in that city. Many requests for a Chapter there have come to our attention, but the New England Viceregents of the Supreme President have been strictly instructed to stay away from Lowell until these differences vanish. The Ahepa is neither Venizelist, nor Royalist. It is American. It is not a Greek organization. It is an American institution. The Editor of a Greek publication in Lowell remarks that although Ahepa Chapters exist in large numbers in New England, 'Lowell,' he asserts, 'has no Chapter and does not deserve one; no hope of having one,' he concludes."
(The Lowell, Mass. Ahepa Chapter was finally established in 1926)
The above illustrates graphically the carry over from Greece to the United States of the struggle in Greece between Royalists and Republicans, between King and Premier, for control of the country. From the end of World War I until the early 1920s, it seemed that most Greek immigrants were on one side or the other, and the arguments over Greek politics inevitably carried into the meetings of Greek organizations as well as in Greek Church community meetings. Even those who did not wish to take sides, were eventually forced into the argument.
One of Ahepa's reasons for its establishment was to form an organization on American soil, of Greek immigrants, with no opinions within the Ahepa for either argument, and the enforcement of this Ahepa Constitutional regulation was strictly followed in practically all chapters. Where it was NOT enforced, chaos followed.
To the casual reader, such arguments over Greek politics may seem foolish and unbelievable; but, it must be remembered, that the Greek immigrants were among the most recently-arrived in the United States of all immigrant groups, that their ties with the homeland were strong and recent, and that they all had close family ties in Greece, including parents, and brothers and sisters. The argument was strong and constant in Greece over the Premier, or President Venizelos, and the King; the daily Greek language newspapers published in the United States printed full-length articles on the Greek situation, and they, of course, were also either pro-Venizelos or pro-King. Wherever the Greek newspapers were available, (and that was in practically all communities, through the mails) there also did the argument prevail.
Mayor Willis Castaing of Tarpon Spring, Florida, member of the Tarpon Springs chapter, was a delegate to the 1924 Washington Supreme Convention … Johnston, Pennsylvania chapter moved into its own Ahepa Home ... The annual banquet of the Dallas, Texas chapter featured speakers Judge Louis Wilson, Judge F. H. Alexander, and Judge Roland, who was President of the Fort Worth Chapter … President Nicholas V. G. Nestor of the Springfield, Massachusetts chapter said:
Greek politics is of no further interest to me; I have discarded it in the waste basket long ago. I am too busy now with the success and welfare of The Ahepa to spend time answering the objections of my esteemed compatriots.
Supreme President George Demeter appointed the following members as his Vicegerents, or deputies, for purposes of expanding Ahepa chapters in their areas: Arthur Stephos, John Apostoles, George S. Zantos, John Chambers, Arthur Pistolas.
© Copyright Order of AHEPA
George J. Leber's book is copyright protected. However, any portions of this book may be quoted at length, provided that proper credit & acknowledgement is given to the book, author, publisher, and pages.
Leber, George J. History of the Order of AHEPA 1922 - 1972. Washigton DC, Order of AHEPA, 1972.