I just finished reading Stories from the Old Squire's Farm by C.A. Stephens which was recommended by Brandy from Afterthoughts. I am sharing a portion from the chapter entitled "Addison Wins the Debate". I did borrow this from the library but will soon be adding it to our book collection.
The author talks about a big debate that they had concerning the weekly debates that he termed "...one of the best features of our school days...". This chapter was very interesting since their debate centered around Andrew Johnson being impeached. I may have to go re-read about his period of history again.
The regularity with which these debates were maintained was due largely to the enthusiasm of our preceptor, Mr. George F. Kennard, who was wont to call on the students early every term to organize a debating society. Throughout four years--allowing for unavoidable postponements--ninety-two debates were held and a wide range of questions discussed. Current political questions were sometimes excluded, as likely to stir hard feelings. In strict point of fact, however, no great harm ever came from debating political questions; rather it trained us to habits of self-restraint, taught us to respect the opinions of opponents, and to be tolerant and good-natured toward them. In truth it should be put down as a rule, that a student, young or old, who cannot control his temper in a debate, keep good-humored, and be courteous to those who differ from him, is just the person who needs to take part in one--till he can. If a debater loses his temper, there is but one good medicine for him--to laugh him out of his weak egotism. p. 284