Date in History: 1880s

In the fall of 1884, students at Fort Atkinson High School began a debating society, taking on some of the pressing social issues of the day. At their very first meeting in October they wasted no time, taking on the proposition that “dancing is not a safe and reliable amusement” and deciding in the negative.

Meeting almost every Monday night after that, the debaters would go on to convince their three-person juries that the reading of novels is not injurious; that the mind of a man is inferior to that of a woman; that Indians had full right to this land; that card playing is not injurious; that lying and stealing are never justified; and that prizefighting should not be prohibited. One debater must have been very persuasive since the jury decided that universal suffrage was not wise despite the fact that two of the three members on the jury were young women!

This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 05/23/2005.