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The Harvard Union Wins in a Close and Interesting Contest.
In spite of the inauspicious weather last evening,a large audience completely filled Sever 11 to listen to the first debate between the Harvard Union and the Wendell Phillips Club. The question, as has been announced, was "Resolved, That the present method of electing United States senators is preferable to election by popular vote."
The debate as a whole was remarkably vigorous and spirited and was far more entertaining than an ordinary intercollegiate contest. The speakers followed each other with such rapidity, so many different points of view were taken, and such originality was displayed in the different arguments that the interest of the audience remained undiminished to the end. The speaking was characterized by perhaps too little following out of a consecutive line of argument by speakers on the same side and by useless citation of individual instances and comparisons, together with a tendency towards the popular stump speech on the part of several of the debaters; but upon the whole the men spoke well and convincingly and the showing made does credit to all the participants.
The debate was opened for the Harvard Union on the affirmative by H. A. Bull '95, who briefly sketched the present method of electing senators and its advantages. He showed how it was from its very method of election that the Senate gains its effectiveness as a check on legislation. F. D. Pollak '96 of the Wendell Phillips Club opened for the negative. He based his argument upon the claim that at present senators are chosen for their political availability, whereas, under the proposed system, the fitness of the candidate would be the test.
The second speaker for the Union was J. F. Hall L. S. He claimed that the present system elected better men than would be possible by popular election, which is largely controlled by city bosses.
He compared the past record of the Senate, in which almost every president and all our greatest statesmen have at sometime sat, with that of the governors of our states chosen by popular vote. The United States Senate for the past 100 years has been the best seond chamber on the earth. His manner and delivery created a very favorable impression.
W. S. Youngman '95 then answered for the negative and dealt some heavy blows at the comparisons of the Union speakers. He argued that the change would prove beneficial from the fact that it would separate national and state interests at elections. He said the affirmative had not proved that legislatures were purer and better than the people.
The five minute speeches were- very effective, E. H. Warren '95, N. P. Dodge L. S., J. P. Warren '96, C. A. Duniway L. S., R. C. Ringwalt '95, speaking on the affirmative, while W. E. Hutton '95, W. R. Buckminster L. S., F. R. Steward '96, A. S. Apsey L. S. and A. P. Stone L. S., supported the negative.
The speeches of E. H. Warren, Duniway, Ringwalt, Hutton and Steward deserve especial mention, the latter perhaps making the hit of the evening, Lack of space forbids the favorable comment these speeches deserve.
H. A. Bull then closed the debate for the Union. He claimed that few fair comparisons had been made, and quoted Bryce as saying, "Bribery is rare in the United States Senate." Most of his remarks consisted of rebuttal and concluded with an admirable summing up of the arguments for the affirmative. His speaking was noticeable for its ability.
The speaking of the evening ended with the concluding argument of F. D. Pollak, who spoke with much force and discrimination, his arguments being the most conclusive of any of the debaters. All four of the principal disputants deserve great credit for their excellent-conduct of the debate.
The judges. Mayor Bancroft, Mr. Ernest L. Conant and Mr. George P. Baker, were but a short time in making their decision which was announced by Mayor Bancroft as being in favor of the Harvard Union. The debate was very close and, as the initial contest of the two clubs, was in every way an unquestionable success.
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