The Euphradian and Clariosophic debate societies allowed students to practice and perfect the public speaking skills many of them would use in careers as legislators, governors, and judges. The
two groups split from the original debate club, the Philomathic, in 1806. The 1848 phase of campus construction provided new homes to the debate
societies. Mirror image rooms on the third floors of Harper and Legare Colleges housed the Euphradian and Clariosophic
societies. Most students joined one of the debate societies,
where they considered philosophic, social, religious, and political issues of
the day. While debating skill figured into determining the winning side,
public opinion also played a role in deciding the efficacy of arguments. As the national sectional crisis deepened, the topic of slavery became more prominent in the debates.
Some debates on slavery:
1807—Clariosophic Society debated, “Is the
abolition of slavery in this country a thing practical?” (Decided in the
1809—Clariosophic Society debated, “Does justice
require the manumission of slaves?” (Decided in the affirmative).
1809—Clariosophic Society debated, “Has the
introduction of slavery been advantageous to South Carolina?” (Decided in the negative).
1826—Euphradian Society debated, “Is it politic
to permit owners of slaves in this country to emancipate them?” (Decided in the
1827—Euphradian Society debated, “Could South Carolina provide
for the emancipation of her slaves in any manner beneficial to them so
emancipated?” (Decided in the negative).
1845—Clariosophic Society debated, “Should
restrictions be placed on the education of slaves?” (Decided in the negative).
1848—Clariosophic Society debated, “Is it likely
that slavery will be eventually abolished?” (Decided in the negative).
1852—Euphradian Society debated, “Should Slaves
be allowed to learn trades?” (Decided in
debated, “Might South Carolina
pass a law requiring free negroes to leave the state or become enslaved?” (Decided in the affirmative).