History of the Philodemic Society: Early Resolutions

The Philodemic Society was founded in 1830 amidst the golden age of America rhetoric, where oratory was not only a corner stone of academic education, but was a popular source of entertainment.  Titans such as Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, and Henry Clay clashed in rhetorical battles that have not been duplicated in America since, and have few rivals at any time in any place. 

Amidst this environment, the early Philodemic Society composed numerous topics to  fashion their rhetorical skills.  Often, these topics presupposed working knowledge of history, literature, and oratory of the past.  Here are some great examples of those early resolutions:

  • Whether Napoleon Bonaparte or General Washington was the greater man?
  • Was the destruction of Carthage beneficial to Rome?
  • Which nation produced the greatest men during the reign of George III and IV, England or Ireland?
  • Which was the greater man, Charles XII of Sweden or Peter the Great of Russia?
  • Can Dueling be justified in the United States?
  • Who is greater orator, Cicero or Patrick Henry?
  • Was the age of Augustus Caesar superior to that of Louis XIV in literature?


Feel free to comment: What do you think about the style of these early resolutions? 

Source: Eric M. George The Philodemic Society, 1830-1890 in Swift Potomac’s Lovely Daughter, Georgetown University Press 1990

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