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Notes on the Oxford/Cambridge Debates

October 9 1924 Cosmos

International debate vs Cambridge October 22 1924

Question to be discuses is Resolved: that this house is opposed to the principle of prohibition. Coe will uphold the negative contention while oxford will uphold the British position on that question.

Debate held in the manner of oxford system –whereby no special judges are appointed by the decision at the conclusion of the argument is made by the audience which votes as to the merits of the proposition and not the merits of the argument, as is done in our English system with judges.

Malcom MacDonald, son of Ramsey  MacDonald, prime minister of England, is one of the Oxford team. J.D. Woodruff, of New College and M.C. Hollis of Balliol College, Oxford, are the other members of the team. Mr. MacDonald is of Queens College, oxford

The Coe team is three remaining varsity debate men of last year. Vernon C McIlraith ’26 Warren C. Keene ’27 and George E. Simpson, ’26.

“Each team is debating its own convictions as well as its countries which will make it an interesting and vital question to us, “Mr. Silliman said yesterday.

Oct 16 1924

Held at 8pm in chapel.

Oxford system of debate will be used – speeches will be twenty minutes in length, but only one rebuttal on each side will be allowed. The debate is controlled solely by the president, who may at any time call down a speaker for irrelevance, undue length, or unnecessarily offensive language.

All remarks must be addressed to the chair and the other speakers referred to only in the third person. At the end the audience or house votes on the merits of the question and not on the merits of the presentation of each individual speaker.

“this is the first time this system has ever been used by any Coe team and promise to be a real treat,” Mr. Silliman told a Cosmos reporter.

The Oxford team debates the university of Kansas at Lawrence on October 20 and will arrive at Coe on the twenty-first or twenty-second. The local chapter of Pi Kappa Delta, national forensic fraternity, will act as host to the visitors while they are here. They leave this country January 20, when they sail for New Zealand, after debating thirty-one colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.

October 23 1924

Bold headline – Coe Debate Trip Defeats Oxford

Wins by 437 to 95 on question of prohibition

When the crimson arguers defeated Oxford University, England, by a 437 to 95 decision. A rising vote was taken.

The speeches throughout the debate were tempered with caustic remarks and much humor, especially from the visiting trip.

The negative took the stand for the praise of strong drink and the praise of personal liberty, while the Coe team came back in its contentions that prohibition is absolutely essential to the public, that it gives a legitimate limitation to personal liberty and that it is economically sound.

The members of he visiting trip spoke extemporaneously, touched on points of American life as if they had lived here, and kept the audience chuckling at their stories and comments.

Abraham Lincoln, for instance was invoked by MacDonald in proving to his hearers that the nation’s great leaders were not in favor of sacrificing human liberty for the sake of prohibition. The premier’s son read from a letter Lincoln once wrote in which he took occasion to pay his respects to those who issued tirades against beer drinking.

            “Alcohol is a poison; it lessons the span of life,” The Coe team told its hearers.

            “That may be,” Woodruff rejoined, “but alcohol has been used for some 7,000 years  and if it is a poison you must admit it is a mighty slow one.”

            “Anyway, it is better to live only half as long and see twice as much. Would you trade your birthright for a mess of dotage? “ he jokingly taunted.

            “We would do away with many of the social reformers of the day who take the joy out of life,” Hollis said in stating the position of his team.

            “Give us wine which makes man just a bit more genial and friendly and happy. Sweep away these reformers who wish to make the world go round but who only give it a turn and give us liquor which literally does make the world go round,” he said.

            MacDonald took a rap at those who say that poverty and prohibition go hand in hand.

            “You might truthfully sat that wealth and liquor drinking go hand in hand, but to say that poverty and prohibition go together shows lack of moral courage to attack industrial institutions which permit poverty.”

            The question of where medicine stands on prohibition provoked a discussion.

            The king’s physician prescribes liquor for our king, MacDonald told his audience, while the physicians for carious cabinet ministers have advised moderate use of alcohol because of their increased worries,” MacDonald argued.

            Dr. S.G. Pattison, head of the Coe history department, presided. B.D. Silliman is debate coach at Coe.

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