Some account has already been given of the early intercollegiate
debates, the first of which was held in 1897. They have continued
until the present day (1943), though with character radically changed
in the last ten years. At first the faculty allowed only one such debate
a year, but as the number of students increased the number of debates
also was increased to two, and towards the end of President Poteat's
administration no limit was set. So great was the interest in the early
debates that there was often difficulty in providing a hall large enough
to seat the audience, which consisted not only of students of the two
institutions represented but also of alumni and others who cared to
hear a good debate. People of all classes were there, governors and
judges, ministers, editors, and other cultured people. The debates of
those days differed much from those of the years since 1930. Now all
intercollegiate debates in our section of the country are conducted in
accord with the regulations of a regional debate council which
prescribes the question for the debates of the year and also outlines of
the arguments pro and con. Success in debate depends largely on
manner of presentation. It is skill in handling arguments already to
hand that counts. It is this one question that is debated whether the
team has one debate or fifty, and debates are often a bore to those
called upon to judge them and they alone usually compose the
Until about 1930 the debates were of another character. The
question for every debate was one chosen by committees of the
contesting institutions; the choice of sides was by agreement of the
teams. At Wake Forest members of these teams won their places in
preliminary contests judged by members of the faculty or were
elected by the Literary Societies. After their selection the members of
the teams set about mastering the question for
Previous Page Next Page