American Whig–Cliosophic Society
|Type||Student debating organization|
|Headquarters||Princeton, New Jersey|
The American Whig–Cliosophic Society (Whig-Clio) is a political, literary, and debating society at Princeton University and the oldest debate union in the United States. Its precursors, the American Whig Society and the Cliosophic Society, were founded at Princeton in 1769 and 1765 by James Madison, William Paterson, Oliver Ellsworth, and Aaron Burr.
Originally two separate organizations, the American Whig Society and the Cliosophic Society were the primary student organizations at Princeton until the end of the 19th century. They "functioned in many ways as separate colleges within the College of New Jersey," creating their own schedule of classes and offering diplomas to graduates." Clio's members were usually northerners, while Whig's typically came from the southern states.
In the decades before the Civil War, the societies frequently debated the subject of slavery. Despite their regional differences, both societies voted regularly in support of slavery's continuation and in opposition to emancipation. The subject united the two societies, which otherwise often disagreed.
Competition from eating clubs, sports teams, and other student activities eventually drew members away from the societies. Prompted by declining memberships, the societies were merged to form the American Whig–Cliosophic Society in 1928. The organization's modern role is to serve as an umbrella organization for political and debating activity at Princeton. The Society frequently hosts events open to all Princeton students, as well as to faculty and community members. These include the Society's monthly Senate Debates on topics related to national or campus policy, lectures and discussion dinners with guest speakers, and social events. The Society also oversees four subsidiary groups: the International Relations Council (IRC), Princeton's Model Congress (PMC), Princeton Debate Panel (PDP), and Princeton Mock Trial (PMT).
The two original societies continue as "houses" within the larger American Whig–Cliosophic Society, with Whig considered the more liberal house and Clio the more conservative.
Princeton Debate Panel (PDP)
The Princeton Debate Panel competes regularly against teams such as the Oxford Union, the Cambridge Union Society, and the Hart House Debating Club. It competes most frequently in the American Parliamentary Debate Association league, of which it is a founding member, and where it currently holds the record for most Team of the Year (TOTY), Speaker of the Year (SOTY), and Novice of the Year (NOTY) awards. It also won (as of 2018) five National Championships and a record eight National Championship top speaker awards. It also hosted the World Universities Debating Championships three times. Its alumni include Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, international relations scholar Joseph Nye, and diplomat John Foster Dulles.
Princeton Mock Trial (PMT)
Princeton Mock Trial is a top-15 nationally-ranked mock trial program. It ranked 2nd in the American Mock Trial Association National Championship in 2013 and won the AMTA Regional Tournament held at Princeton in 2008. It annually hosts a Moot Court tournament for high school students from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.
International Relations Council (IRC)
The International Relations Council is the biggest subsidiary of Whig-Clio in terms of membership. It hosts Sunday weekly meetings for students to discuss international events and developments. It also sponsors two annual international affairs conferences: one for the high school level Princeton Model United Nations Conference (PMUNC) and one for the collegiate Princeton Interactive Crisis Simulation (PICSIM). PMUNC, the high school Model UN conference hosted by the IRC, attracts some 1000 high school students from around the world.
Model Congress (PMC)
Currently,[when?] Princeton Model Congress offers high school students the opportunity to simulate the experience of serving in Congress, sitting on the bench as a Supreme Court Justice, counseling the Commander in Chief as a member of the Presidential Cabinet or covering the Federal Government in print as a part of the Press Corps. The conference draws approximately 1,200 participants.
Whig-Cliosophic Honorary Debate Panel
The Whig-Cliosophic Honorary Debate Panel (WCHDP) sponsors and promotes prize debates at Princeton University. Incumbent to this purpose is the goal of not only rewarding but fostering top-caliber debate at Princeton. Annually-held debates and oratory contests include the Lynde Prize Debate, the Class of 1876 Memorial Prize for Debate in Politics, the Maclean Prize and Junior Orator Awards, the Walter E. Hope Prizes in Speaking and Debating, the Spencer Trask Medals for Debating, and the William Rusher ’44 Prize in Debating.
James Madison Award for Distinguished Public Service
The James Madison Award for Distinguished Public Service is a longstanding tradition and the highest distinction bestowed by the Whig-Cliosophic Society. Past recipients include:
- 1960 Dean Acheson
- 1961 Robert Meyner
- 1962 Stuart Symington
- 1963 Maxwell Taylor
- 1964 Adlai Stevenson
- 1965 Harlan Cleveland
- 1966 Claiborne Pell,
- 1967 John Harlan
- 1968 Roy Wilkins
- 1969 Earl Warren
- 1970 Averell Harriman
- 1971 Robert F. Goheen
- 1972 Walter Cronkite
- 1973 J. W. Fulbright
- 1974 Golda Meir
- 1975 William O. Douglas
- 1976 Mike Mansfield
- 1978 Leon Jaworski
- 1979 Roger Baldwin
- 1980 Millard C. Farmer
- 1981 Potter Stewart
- 1982 Jacob K. Javits
- 1984 Bob Hope
- 1985 George Kennan
- 1986 Paul Volcker
- 1987 Warren Burger
- 1988 Barry Goldwater
- 1989 C. Leslie Rice Jr.
- 1990 Ralph Nader
- 1991 Jesse Jackson
- 1994 Sarah Brady
- 1995 Robert MacNeil
- 1997 Patricia Schroeder
- 2000 Bill Clinton
- 2002 Kofi Annan
- 2003 William Frist
- 2003 Sandra Day O’Connor
- 2004 George Shultz
- 2006 Stephen Breyer
- 2008 Antonin Scalia
- 2009 Jeffrey Sachs
- 2010 Prince Hans-Adam II
- 2013 Chen Guangcheng
- 2014 Ben Bernanke
- 2015 Jimmy Carter
- 2016 Ted Cruz
- 2020 Terri Sewell
The Governing Council of the Whig-Clio Society is in charge of managing the affairs of the Society. The positions of President, Vice President, Director of Program, President of the Senate, Secretary, and Whig and Clio Party Chairs are elected by all members of the Society to serve 1-year terms. The elected officers also select a corp of appointed officers.
Notably, Tina Ravitz, Class of 1976, was the Society's first female President.
Stances on right-wing figures
The Society has taken a number of stances against controversial conservative political figures. In 2018, Whig-Clio co-presidents disinvited conservative University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Amy Wax after she had made negative remarks about the quality of her Black students. In 2020, a conservative member of the society complained that he had proposed inviting Washington Post columnist George Will and Federal Judge Neomi Rao to speak at the society, but its governing council had voted not to. In March 2021, the Society voted to revoke Senator Ted Cruz's James Madison Award for Distinguished Public Service after his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election based on false claims of voter fraud. The Society reversed course a month later and decided not to revoke the award.
The Society was founded in 1765 by prominent Princetonians including President James Madison and Vice-President Aaron Burr. Alumni in modern times include Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Secretaries of State James Baker and George Shultz, and Senators Adlai Stevenson and Ted Cruz. A full list of notable Whig-Clio alumni is linked below.
Other historic societies
- The Philomathean Society of the University of Pennsylvania
- The Philolexian Society of Columbia University
- The Philodemic Society of Georgetown University
- The Washington Literary Society and Debating Union and Jefferson Literary and Debating Society of the University of Virginia
- The Union-Philanthropic (Literary) Society of Hampden–Sydney College
- The Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- The Phi Kappa Literary Society of University of Georgia in Athens
- The Demosthenian Literary Society of The University of Georgia in Athens
- : Cambridge Union Society
- : Oxford Union Society
- : University of St Andrews Union Debating Society
- : The Durham Union Society
- : London School of Economics, Grimshaw International Relations Club
- :Yale Debate Association
- :Berkeley Forum
- :Jefferson Literary and Debating Society at the University of Virginia
- :Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- :Olivaint Conférence
- :Olivaint Conference of Belgium
- Niu, Samuel. "The Whig-Cliosophic Society and Slavery". Princeton & Slavery. Princeton University. Retrieved 25 December 2021.
- "Hall of Fame". 16 April 2012.
- "Samuel A. Alito - 1972 Nassau Herald (Yearbook) entry".
- "Daily Princetonian 7 January 1958 — Princeton Periodicals".
- "Daily Princetonian 2 May 1905 — Princeton Periodicals".
- "Daily Princetonian 19 May 1905 — Princeton Periodicals".
- "Princeton Mock Trial". 27 January 2016.
- "U. Debating Society Whig-Clio Struggles To Grapple With Internal Dissension, Charges Of Anti-Conservative Bias". 3 January 2019.
- "The New Strategy to Suppress Conservative Voices on Campus". National Review. 4 January 2021.
- "Whig-Clio votes to rescind James Madison Award from Sen. Ted Cruz '92". 4 March 2021.
- Kane, Christopher (11 April 2021). "Whig-Clio Reverses Course After Voting To Rescind Sen. Ted Cruz's James Madison Award". Princeton Tory. Retrieved 25 December 2021.