We have been interested in looking over a list of questions discussed at Harvard in ante-revolutionary times by candidates for the degree of Master of Arts. As early as 1743, Samuel Adams chose the question, "Is it lawful to resist the supreme magistrate, if the commonwealth cannot otherwise be preserved?" He argued that it was lawful, and thirty years later he stood first in advocating such measures. In 1765 Elbridge Gerry, who became one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, answered the following question in the affirmative: "Can the new prohibitory duties, which make it useless for the people to engage in commerce, be evaded by them as faithful subjects?" C. Strong, afterwards governor of Massachusetts, gave an affirmative answer, in 1767, to the following question:"Does a promise that has been given bind the highest magistrate in a civil government?" John Adams' subject was (1758), "Is civil government absolutely necessary for men?" Other questions, within ten years of the beginning of the revolution, were, "Is an inferior magistrate obliged to execute the orders of his superior, when they would plainly subvert the commonwealth?" "Are the people the sole judges of their rights and liberties?" "Is a government tyrannical in which the rulers consult their own interest more than that of their subjects?" "Is a government despotic in which the people have no check on the legislative power?" To the question, "Does the issue of paper money contribute to the people's good?" an affirmative answer was given in 1728. In 1784 a like answer was given to the question, "Is the constant depreciation of paper money most disastrous to commerce?" In 1787 the question had assumed this form, "Is paper money the root of all evils?"
Other noticeable subjects are the following: Is a monarchical government the best? Aff. 1698. Is agriculture the most honorable of all secular employments? Aff. 1725, 1755. Is the diffusion of knowledge among all the citizens necessary to the existence of the republic ? Aff. 1781. Is the starry heaven made of fire ? Aff. 1674. Is there a stone that makes gold? Aff. 1687. Can mortals be changed into one another alternately? Aff. 1703. Is the earth the centre of the universe? Neg. 1717. Is a comet, which only appears after many years, more a foreboding of divine wrath than a planet which rises daily. Neg. 1770. Can real gold be made by the art of chemistry? Aff. 1771. Were the aborigines of America descended from Abraham? Aff. 1773. Is the color of the Indians the original color of man? Aff. 1744. Are any diseases conducive to longevity? Aff. 1768. Are the virtues of heathen genuine virtues? Neg. 1697. Is it lawful to sell Africans? Neg. 1724, Is it always lawful to give and take the market price? Neg. 1725. Did the heathen poets and philosophers derive their best precepts from the writings of Moses and the prophets? Aff. 1747. Do organs excite a devotional spirit in divine worship? Neg. 1730. Is capital punishment as effective in deterring men from crime, as sentence to hard labor for life? Neg. 1769. Is wealth more conducive to virtue than poverty? Aff. 1787. When Balaam's ass spoke, was there any change in its organs? Neg. 1731.