Team Lincoln vs Team Douglass Debates

2024  Parliamentary-Style Debate:  Team Lincoln vs. Team Douglass
Friday, July 26, 2024  (10am to 1130am)
Stern 102

Model debates

Tuesday 7/16: RESOLVED: The compromises over slavery at the 1787 constitutional convention were disappointing but necessary for the establishment of American democracy.

  • Mealy (Affirmative)
  • Pinsker (Negative)

Tuesday 7/23: RESOLVED: The compromises over race and reunion after the Civil War were disappointing but necessary for the continuation of American democracy.

  • Pinsker (Affirmative)
  • Mealy (Negative)

Team Lincoln vs. Team Douglass

RESOLVED:  That Frederick Douglass and the radical antislavery forces were right.  The best way to defeat slavery in America would have been through more relentless confrontation and an unyielding commitment to both freedom and equality.

Coin Toss for deciding teams:  Monday, July 22, 2024 following seminar

Teams: JUDGES:  Greg Zimmerman (Class of 1983) and various alums of the seminar

TEAM DOUGLASS will open and close the debate

Scene from the 2021 debate


There will be six speakers on each team.  Each speaker gets 2 minutes.  The teams will alternate, starting with Team Douglass arguing FOR the resolution.  Team Lincoln then argues against.  Each team much decide the order of its speakers in advance.

Each team will also designate a questioner for each speaker’s slot who will sit in the front rows.  There will be either two or three designated questioners on each team (one team has eight members / the other nine). Each questioner has the right to stand and question the designated speaker for up to 3 questions per speech.  Speakers MUST yield the floor to at least ONE question (if asked).  If no question is asked during the two-minute speech, then the questioner  MUST ask at least one question at the end of the speech.  All questions should be short, direct, and relevant to whatever the speaker was commenting on at the time.  The 2-minute clock stops during the Q&A.

Any debater who believes there has been a violation of rules (regarding time limits, out-of-order questions, disruptive behavior, etc.) may rise and announce a point of order.  The parliamentarian will then hear the point and make a ruling.  The 2-minute clock stops during such points of order.

After all six speakers for each side have delivered their speeches and following the final questions, each team will then have 5 minutes to quietly prepare a plan for rebuttal.  Each team will then designate one speaker and this closing speaker will then have 2 minutes to summarize the entire general debate and to directly rebut any key points.  Final speakers may NOT introduce new arguments at this stage, but can respond to any previous discussions. TEAM LINCOLN will lead the closing arguments and TEAM DOUGLASS will finish them.  There will be no questions allowed during the rebuttal period.

Following the arguments, the panel of judges composed will consult and declare a winner.    Good luck!

Check out the coverage from the 2021 summer debate at the Carlisle Sentinel

Featured secondary sources for this debate:

James Oakes, The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics (New York: W.W. Norton, 2007)

Jonathan Holloway, The Cause of Freedom:  A Concise History of African Americans (New York: Oxford, 2021)


Team Lincoln

Team Douglass