Sigma Alpha Epsilon was founded on March 9, 1856 on the banks of the Black Warrior River at the University of Alabama. During a time of deep national turmoil and regionalism leading up to the Civil War, eight young men established a brotherhood of character, honor and friendship based on the virtues of a True Gentleman. By the start of the Civil War in 1861, SAE was comprised of 15 chapters containing just shy of 400 members. At the outbreak of war, 376 men went to fight, seven of which sided with the Union.
Following the war, SAE like much of the South, was depleted and lay in devastation. With only a few chapters remaining at the University of Georgia, University of Virginia, and Columbian College in Washington, D.C. the fraternity faced near extinction. SAE is the only surviving fraternity whose founding predates the Civil War. Through hard work in the years that followed, the brotherhood was not only revitalized but also managed to expand to the West and North. Today SAE is the largest fraternity in North America with approximately 300 chapters and 300,000 initiates in every state and Canada. Florida Upsilon was the 41st SAE chapter and was established February 11, 1884. It was the first and is the oldest fraternity at the University of Florida.