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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
The regular bi-weekly meeting of the Harvard Union was held last evening in Sever 11. After the reading and approval of the minutes of the previous meeting, a question for debate at the next meeting was selected. The following is the question chosen: "Resolved, That prison labor should be made as productive as possible." The debate of the evening was then opened on the following question: "Resolved, That independence in politics should be the rule and not the exception." The debate was opened for the affirmative by Mr. D. C. Torrey, '90, who spoke somewhat as follows: The question lies at the basis of democratic government. There are two standpoints from which this question should be looked at the one, the advantages to the individual, and the other, the advantages to the government. Democratic government stands for individual opinion, and in this, differs from all other forms of government. Under the second head he read a short passage from Professor Sumner of Yale, to the effect that the lobby and its evils are fatal in their indifference to true democratic government. Mr. Torrey cited in support of this statement the great amounts of money which at every election are used in influencing voters and to defeat the very purposes of a democratic form of government.
Mr. C. Friend opened the debate for the negative. He said, "Popular government means government by parties. There have always been two parties ever since the question of adopting a constitution came up. Should indepondence in politics be carried to its full extent, the whole country would be split up into small parties. Mr. Friend cited examples to show the danger of voting against one's party. It is the complaint of Congress today that not enough attention is paid to party.
Mr. E. I. Smith, L. S., closed the debate for the affirmative. He said in brief: There must of necessity be political parties, but they should be run by people who think clearly and vote as they think. Without the present existing parties the opinion of the voters of this country would divide themselves into two and only two parties.
The debate for the negative was closed by Mr. I. H. Bronson. L. S. His argument in brief was, that independence is at best a theory and as such not of practical use. Mr. Bronson presented the view that all those who were present, at least all who were voters, were members of one of those very parties about which so many hard things had been said.
The vote on the merits of the question stood, affirmative 8, negative 9; on the merits of the principal disputants affirmative 6, negative 15; on the debate as a whole affirmative 4, negative 3. A. G. Brodhurst, '89 was elected a member of the Union.
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