Beginnings of the Literary Societies 147
it was not until the second meeting that the Philomathesian name was
adopted by Mr. Dockery's group. This meeting was on February 28.
At this time each of the Societies adopted its constitution and by-laws
and elected officers. These officers were President, Vice President,
Secretary, Treasurer, Censor, Librarian, Senior Critic, Junior Critic,
and a General Committee. In the Philomathesian Society the name
Censor was afterwards changed to Supervisor. The first President of
the Euzelian Society was Hiram K. Person; of the Philomathesian
Society, Charles R. Merriam of Wake County.
The records of the Societies show that in the beginning the
meetings were
fortnightly.4
They had three lines of literary work,
debate, declamation and dissertation, or essay. All were very helpful
and developing but the debate was the most interesting. In regard to
the debates the practice in each Society was the same. When the
question was proposed two disputants were appointed to represent
each side. In the Euzelian Society the first query was "Is there more
pleasure in the pursuit than in the possession of an object?" This was
proposed on March 28, discussed on April 11, and decided in the
negative. The first query debated in the Philomathesian Society was,
"Would it be policy in the United States to declare war against
France?" This was proposed on March 21, debated on April 4, and
decided in the negative.
No less important than the literary work of the Societies was the
training they gave in parliamentary procedure and the methods of
dignified formalities and diplomacy. We have an instance of this in
the very first records of the Societies. In some way not now known
the arrangements for the celebration of the Fourth of July was left to
the Societies. The Euzelian Society by formal action, recorded in the
most dignified language, left the choice of an orator for the occasion
to the Philomathesian Society, and appointed a committee to wait on
the other Society and give formal notice. The Philomathesian Society
made reply
―――――――
4
From the first the meetings of the Euzelian Society were opened and closed by
prayer, but this practice was not adopted in the Philomathesian Society for several
months.
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