Debating

At United Debaters of Paris, we mainly debate in British Parliamentary style, but some of our universities and schools also take part in the French Debating Association Tournament which is another style of debating, also known as Paris Five style.

  • BP
  • FDA
British Parliamentary Style

This style of debating a.k.a. World style debating consists of one motion four teams of two (two teams in the proposition, two teams in the oppostion) and a motion. Each team has 15 minutes to prepare for a 7-minute speech. This style of debating emphasizes the arguments and the structure of the speech.

BP debating is also called World Style Debating because it is known and played all over the world and gives way to many tournaments all over the world !

For instance, we usually attend tournaments like the Oxford IV, the Trinity IV in Dublin, The Budapest Open... and we organize our own debating tournament: the Paris Open.

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French Debating Association style

This style of debating was invented by Declan Mc Cavana in 1994 and consists of two teams of five and a motion. Each team has one week to prepare and each member has a five-minute speaking time. To win such a debate, you'll need to have your audience laugh, shout 'Hear Hear' or 'Shame'.

This style is mostly played between Parisian 'Grandes Écoles' and Universities.

FDA's official website.

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Detailed presentation of BP

  • Introduction
  • Overview of the rules
  • Teamwork and role of the speaker
  • Speech
  • Summarizing a debate
  • Points of Information
  • Tips and tricks
  • Adjudication criteria
  • Useful links and videos

World Style (or British Parliamentary Style) focuses on content, arguments and structure. The point is to put forward the best arguments possible in a structured way. In this format, there are very specific rules and a strict protocol to follow. As a result, this style tends to be less appealing to a public of non debaters. Also every speaker has a very specific role to fulfill, whereas in the Paris Vs Style, only the first and last speakers have special roles, the three middle speakers simply develop their arguments.

The big difference between the Paris Vs Style (FDA) and Worlds Style (WS) is the preparation time. The motion is announced ONE week in advance in the first case, and only 15 MINUTES beforehand in the second. Thus, WS is a greater test of your ability to think on your feet. Also, the motions tends to be much more ‘closed’ (restricted in scope) and most of the time tend to favor a policy debate rather than a philosophical one.

Due to the format, World Style lays the emphasis on spontaneity and wit, and is thus very challenging.

Some tips and advice on World Style debating by Laurent Leconte are provided in the next sections.

This text isn’t meant to be an exhaustive compendium of the subtleties nor a complete guide of the rules, dos and don’ts of Word Style Debating. Rather, it’s a list of tips, tricks and advices to avoid the most common mistakes and (hopefully) improve your debating style..

Structure of the debate

At the heart of every World Style debate (any debate, for that matter) is an issue or motion. In World Style Debating, the motions usually have to do with current events, so a good knowledge of what’s going on in the world is a prerequisite. The motion is given 15 minutes before the beginning of the debate, which means that there isn’t much time to prepare. Debaters are in teams of two and there are two teams to each side. The sides are called Proposition (or Government) and Opposition. There are therefore 4 “positions” for lack of a better word: 1st Proposition, 1st Opposition, 2nd Proposition, and 2nd Opposition. The position of each team is chosen at random right after the motion is disclosed.

The detailed order of the speakers is as follows:

Team /Speaker:

  • 1st Proposition - Prime Minister
  • 1st Opposition - Leader of the Opposition
  • 1st Proposition - Deputy Prime Minister
  • 1st Opposition - Deputy Leader
  • 2nd Proposition - 3rd Proposition Speaker (apparently there are no specific names)
  • 2nd Opposition - 3rd Opposition Speaker
  • 2nd Proposition - Government Whip
  • 2nd Opposition - Opposition Whip

Note that all positions are not equal and that some are deemed more challenging than others. However, the jury usually takes this fact into account when judging the teams

How to win ?

Each speaker has 5 (or 7, depending on the rules) minutes to rebut the arguments of the other side and put her own arguments forward. Moreover, any debater is free to ask Points of Information during the speech of a member from one of the opposing teams (more on POIs later). A panel of adjudicators led by a Chairperson judges each speaker according to content and style and ranks the teams at the end of the debate. The object of World Style Debating is therefore not only to beat the other side, but also to best the other team on your side; the issue of whether the motion should be carried or not is actually unimportant to the debate.

At the end of the debate, the jury retires (or asks the debaters to leave the room) and ranks the 4 teams, who earn a certain number of points according to their performance. For instance, in the European Universities Debating Championship the ratings were as follows:

  • 1st team : 3 points
  • 2nd team: 2 points
  • 3rd team: 1 point
  • 4th team: no points

Basic Teamwork

When all’s said and done, the adjudicators judge and rank teams. That means that while the performances of the individual speakers are important, teamwork is essential. You should therefore behave as a team, and perhaps more importantly be seen to behave as a team. A good way to do that is to present or summarize the arguments of your teammate during your own speech (e.g. “I will talk about YOUR ARGUMENTS, then my teammate will move on to YOUR PARTNER'S ARGUMENTS” or “My teammate has shown you that the motion must be rejected because of YOUR PARTNER'S ARGUMENTS and, as she has told you, I will address the following points: YOUR ARGUMENTS”).

Furthermore, you should keep in mind that you and your teammate’s arguments work together; in particular, you should never ever contradict your partner, either explicitly or (and this is more tricky) implicitly in your arguments. Your opponents will be quick to pick up on discrepancies and turn them to their advantage. The following (fictitious) example, where the faulty team is 1st Opp, illustrates this risk:

1st speaker for the Opposition: “We should oppose the motion because such a law would accomplish nothing.”

2nd speaker for the Proposition: …

2nd speaker for the Opposition: “We should reject the motion because the law wouldn’t have the expected results; rather, it would encourage other, vastly more destructive behavior…”

Point of Information from a speaker in the Proposition: “Sir, your teammate alleged that the law would be useless yet you seem to think it would have far reaching results. So which is it, sir?”

Once again, summarizing the arguments of your teammate is a good way to remember what he or she has said and avoid this kind of mistake.

This is basic teamwork, and you should apply it regardless of your role in the debate; but there are also specific tasks that each team must perform depending on their position in the debate.

Role of each Team
1st Proposition

1st Prop is expected to define the motion and present arguments in favor of it. Once again, this should be structured: the first speaker begins by giving the motion and explaining it, then moves on to give reasons why the motion should be carried. Then his or her teammate will put other arguments forward or eventually focus on one or two important (but not necessarily new) arguments and develop those.

1st Opposition

1st Opp has to rebut the arguments of the 1st Prop and introduce arguments against the motion. Within the team, the first speaker has to acknowledge the definition given by the Proposition and eventually (though this is very rare) reject it if he or she deems it too narrow or a truism (see the official rules for a complete discussion on what constitutes a “bad” definition). If the definition is rejected, the speaker should give a detailed explanation of the reason and put forward a new definition. 1st Opposition is usually regarded as a difficult position, because the speakers (especially the Leader of the Opposition) have to react immediately to the definition and the arguments of the Proposition (which you may guess but can never be completely sure of).

2nd Proposition

1st Opp has to rebut the arguments of the 1st Prop and introduce arguments against the motion. Within the team, the first speaker has to acknowledge the definition given by the Proposition and eventually (though this is very rare) reject it if he or she deems it too narrow or a truism (see the official rules for a complete discussion on what constitutes a “bad” definition). If the definition is rejected, the speaker should give a detailed explanation of the reason and put forward a new definition. 1st Opposition is usually regarded as a difficult position, because the speakers (especially the Leader of the Opposition) have to react immediately to the definition and the arguments of the Proposition (which you may guess but can never be completely sure of).

The second speaker for the 2nd Prop can (although she doesn’t have to) add more arguments to the expansion introduced by the first speaker. But his or her main role is to summarize the debate (more on summaries in the tips and advice section); in order to do this the speaker must list all the arguments in favor of or against the motion and do so in such a way that the pros seem to outweigh the cons.

2nd Opposition

The role of 2nd Opp is more or less similar to the role of 1st Opp with the added task of summarizing the debate. The first speaker should put forward more arguments against the motion and specifically rebut the expansion introduced by 2nd Prop. The second speaker for the team, who is also the last speaker for the Opposition, has to summarize the debate (note that unlike the last speaker for the Proposition, the Opposition whip should not introduce any new arguments). Obviously, in this summary the arguments against the motion must seem stronger than the arguments in favor of it.

Role of each speaker within a team

As the preceding section has shown, each team has specific tasks to fulfill and within each team the roles of the speakers are usually different. It is therefore important to decide very early on (usually as soon as you know the motion and the position of your team) who will speak when. This decision comes naturally after a few debates, when you know your teammate’s and your own strengths, weaknesses and affinities. Two general points to keep in mind:

“Outside” positions (i.e. Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition, Government or Opposition Whip) are generally more demanding. The first speaker for the proposition has to define the motion and get the debate going. The Leader of the Opposition has to think on his feet and immediately react to the Proposition’s arguments (and definition). The Whips must summarize the debate and give the overall impression that their side has the stronger arguments.

If one of the teammates is calmer and has more poise, whereas the other teammate is more aggressive, you should consider having the calmer speaker go first. Why? According to one judge, having the calmer person speak first gives the impression that the team is reasonable and in control. The aggressive speaker then gives more energy and intensity to the debate; furthermore, this intensity is perceived as a reaction to the attacks of the opposing teams, and not just a case of bad anger management. If on the other hand the first speaker of the team appears to be a raving maniac, the judges will dismiss him or her and tend to dismiss the other speaker as well.

This section focuses on the bread-and-butter of debating, the speeches. It’s a quick outline of how to structure, prepare, and present one.

Structure of a speech

There are three elements to a good speech: structure, structure, and more structure. Not only does a structured speech help you organize your arguments and rebuttals, it also makes it much easier for your audience to follow your line of logic and appreciate your arguments.

The following is a generic outline of a debate speech:

  • Introduction and outline of your arguments (don’t forget to mention your teammate’s arguments!)
  • Rebuttal of previous speaker
  • Argument 1
  • ...Last argument
  • Summary of your arguments and conclusion

This is of course only a suggestion, and you can organize your speech as you see fit. However, keep in mind that overly complex speech structures (jumping between different arguments, going into lengthy asides, etc.), even if they seem clear to you when you prepare or deliver your speech, might confuse your listeners or distract them from the ideas you’re trying to get across.

In short: your speech structure should focus on clarity and ease of understanding.

Preparation of the speech

You have 15 minutes to prepare a 5 (or even 7) minute speech. Obviously, in such a short time you can’t possibly write a full-fleshed speech, rehearse it, and learn it by heart. The best you can usually do is figure out what arguments you will use, roughly organize your speech, jolt down a few ideas and examples for each argument and pray to the Gods of Debating that everything goes well.

Let’s look at the preparation of a speech chronologically. Once you know the motion as well as your team’s position you must decide on each speaker’s role during the debate. If one of you has to define the motion, make sure you agree on what definition you’re going to give before choosing your arguments; if you have to expand the motion, decide how you’re going to expand it now (this is less critical, since the member not expanding the motion will be summarizing the debate and those two tasks are more or less independent).

Once this is done, you know when you’re speaking and what you have to do; now is the time to start thinking about what arguments you will use. The best way to do this is probably to brainstorm with your partner and, once you have enough ideas, divide them between the two of you. Speaking of which, three main arguments are usually enough for a 7 minute speech (don’t forget you’ll also have an introduction, rebuttal, summary and points of information to deal with during your speech). And, to quote Churchill: “there's no use having more than three points because nobody will ever remember the fourth.”

Speaking

I assume that you have already participated in or at least seen a few debates so I will not give you the usual advice on speaking (be clear, articulate, vary your tone and tempo, look at your audience, etc.).

One of the most important points i would like to stress in this section is that you have to make the structure of your speech clear to the judges. After all, what is the point in having a clear and organized draft with well thought -out and pertinent arguments if the jury cannot distinguish your introduction from your rebuttal from your arguments ?

Well, how do you make the judges understand the structure of your speech ? As we saw with teamwork, the least subtle way of doing things is usually the best. During your introduction you need to state clearly what your arguments are going to be. Between each major section of your speech you must point out that you are moving on to a new section. And when you conclude, you must recap the main points of your speech. Perhaps an example will make this clearer. Let us say you are the second speaker for your team and that your 3 arguments are the ones we gave before (economic, social, moral). Your speech would go more or less like this:

"madam Chairman, adjudicators (usual introductory niceties). My teammate has shown you that we should reject the motion because SUMMARIZE YOUR PARTNER'S ARGUMENTS and I will drive the final nails in this motion's coffin by addressing the following points. First, we’ll take a look at the economical aspects of such a motion; secondly, I’ll talk about the social consequences of the motion, and my final point will address some of the moral issues surrounding this debate. But before I do that, I’d like to come back to some of the points made by the last speaker…”

  • “Now I’ll move on to my first argument, which is the economic aspect.”

    First argument

  • “My second argument is…”

    Second argument

  • “My final argument is…”

    Third argument

  • “To conclude, what have we shown you today, ladies and gentlemen? My partner has shown you that and I have shown you that for economical, social, and moral reasons we cannot support this motion. I beg to reject.”

Though this may seem like a redundant and clumsy way to get your point across, it works. And more importantly, subtler methods aren’t guaranteed to. Don’t get me wrong: the judges aren’t stupid, far from it. But it’s much easier to follow and take notes on a speech when all its different parts are clearly separated and this in turn makes the adjudicators’ work easier. If your speech is unclear and ill-structured, the judges aren’t required to (and usually won’t) slave over it to understand its internal logic (or lack thereof). In other words: “say what you’re going to say, say it, then say what you just said.” (a somewhat cryptic quote from an ex-debater and adjudicator).

Another useful habit to get into is to time yourself when you’re speaking. You can use a stopwatch, a simple watch or even your mobile phone (most of them have a nifty “timer” mode). Although one of the judges will be timing you and will give you signals (the first signal is after one minute, the second one is one minute before the end, and the last one is when your time is up), those won’t do you much good if you run out of things to say before the final-minute mark or (as happens more often) if you have to rush through the last minute of the speech to put all your insightful arguments forward.

You should of course aim to finish your speech within seconds of the final gong; going on for too long afterwards is bad, but finishing too soon is even worse (there’s nothing more unnatural than a silent debater).

Finally, when you’re not speaking, take notes on what the other debaters say (i.e. their arguments). This is especially important right before your speech because you’ll have to rebut the arguments of the previous speaker, or if you have to summarize the debate (more on summarizing in the next section). Taking notes also helps to follow the evolution of the debate and eventually detect faulty teamwork, which you can then point out with glee and malice.

Other tips and advice

Read!

This is very generic advice. Read the official rules for fine points which I may have missed, to get a feel for the philosophy of World Style Debating, and because you’re expected to know the rules. You are also encouraged to read other debating guides and how-to’s, they’re probably more complete and more accurate than this one.

Read periodicals to keep abreast of the current events. If you’re going to participate in any “serious” debates, you’ll be expected to be able to talk about foreign affairs or general society topics. You can also read debate summaries on common topics, with arguments for and against them (see www.debatabase.com). Note that you can use documents to prepare your debate; a few selected periodicals or a small reference book, such as Pear’s Cyclopedia, can come in handy to find facts and figures. However, since you have very little time to prepare you should know what is in your documents to avoid groping through them blindly, so this doesn’t dispense you from reading.

So far I’ve talked about the need for debate summaries without going into specifics. In this section I’ll give a few pointers concerning such summaries.

Obviously the first step is to take careful notes on what each speaker says. These should include :

  • The definition of the motion as given by the first speaker;
  • The expansion of the motion as given by the third speaker for the Proposition;
  • Each speaker’s arguments (at least their general theme and sub-issues, and perhaps a few details or figures);
  • The rebuttals: these are almost as important as the arguments because they explicitly counter the previous speaker’s points;
  • Successful POIs (i.e. points of information that were not answered satisfactorily);
  • The eventual blunders of individual speakers.

In short, you need to understand the content of the debate. Once you’ve done that, summarizing the debate is “simply” a matter of presenting all that information in a clear and consive way while making it seem that your side has the stronger arguments. There are two possible ways to do that. You can summarize the debate chronologically, giving a speaker by speaker account. Alternatively, you can organize your summary thematically, by distinguishing the main ideas of the debate and retracing their evolution, using a argument / counter-argument style. This is more elegant but also more difficult to accomplish since you basically have to prepare your summary just before your speech, once you have all the arguments from all the debaters.

Finally, keep in mind that the summary must come at the very end of the debates. In particular, you do not want to switch the roles of the last two speakers for your side. I’ve witnessed a debate in which the 3rd speaker for the Opposition summarized the debate, and the Opposition whip said: “since my teammate summarized for the opposition, I’m going to introduce new arguments…” Needless to say, they ranked fourth. Avoid at all cost!

This is another very important part of debating which I haven’t touched on yet. A point of information (or POI) is a short question asked to the current speaker; a POI that is left unanswered or is dealt with evasively can have devastating effects for the speaker. I witnessed, during a very high-level debate, just such a POI. The speaker –a member of the Governement– was arguing that parents should be legally responsible for the misdemeanors of their children, and went on to say that if parents couldn’t account for their children’s conduct they should stay at home to supervise them. To which he got the following point of information : “How does a single parent stay at home to watch her children when she has to work 8 hours a day to keep them fed?” The speaker had nothing to answer to that. Afterwards every other speaker from the Opposition made a reference to the POI to make it clear that the Proposition didn’t know what it was talking about.

Just how do POIs work? You can ask a POI to any speaker from the opposite side, after the 1-minute bell and before the final-minute bell. Actually, what you do is that you request permission to ask a point of information by standing up, extending your hand towards the speaker and saying loudly and clearly “Point of Information, sir/madam”. The speaker will then either accept or refuse the POI, but she must do so promptly (i.e. not leave you standing for 2 minutes before finally declining). It is customary to accept two points of information (or one, for shorter speeches) during your speech. Accepting fewer would make the jury think you’re avoiding POIs; accepting more just eats up valuable debating time (of course, if you’re running short on things to say you can always accept more POIs). A POI must be stated in the form of a short question: no lenghty discourses are allowed, just get your point across.

A few specific points about POIs. Firstly, you can try to “force” your point of information across even if the speaker won’t let you ask it. If you want to react to something the speaker just said and your point of information revolves around one strong statement, e.g. “Human rights in Turkey”, you can use that statement instead of saying “Point of Information” when you stand up. For example: “Sir, on human rights in Turkey?” The theory behind this is that even if the speaker turns you down you’ve made your point and raised a problem which he’ll have to deal with. However, you should be careful when using this trick because it demands a certain sense of timing.

Secondly, choose when and how to accept POIs. If you’re in the middle of an argument, don’t stop to take a Point of Information; you would just lose your train of thought and so would the judges. It’s far better to accept a POI during a break in your speech, e.g. between arguments; if someone requests a POI and you’re willing to take it, but not at the moment, you can ask them to wait for a little while (which is better than ignoring them). I’d also like to point out a common practice when accepting POIs. When you’re nearing the end of your argument and you’re about to accept a POI, you can do so by saying “Sir/Madam, what do you have to say about that?” (“that” being, of course, your brillant argument) instead of the traditional “You may speak.” I don’t really understand the logic behind it; perhaps it’s meant to throw the opponent asking the POI off course. It’s cute, and it can happen. Just thought you’d like to know.

Finally, choose when to answer POIs. If you’re asked a question that you intended to answer later on in one of your arguments, you could just say “This is an interesting question, which I will answer later on while talking about the moral aspects of the matter” or some such. Just be sure to answer the question afterwards! And it doesn’t hurt to mention the POI just before answering it: “and now, to get back to the question you asked earlier...”

We’ve seen that you should rebutt the previous speaker’s arguments before presenting your own. However, if you and the previous speaker are speaking about similar themes your rebuttal may use arguments you had planned to give during your speech. In that case, it’s easier and more elegant to rebutt those points during your arguments.

Tips learnt at the Tilbury House Open 2008:

From the judges'point of view:

  • Some first prop did not trigger any POI: their arguments should have been more controversial
  • Structure = big love, especially for 7 min speeches. Be careful not to convince yourself that you have time, or you’ll end announcing your third point at the beginning of the last protected minute = big bof
  • Team line: Announcing your partner points ( not necessarily a clear plan, which will force him to stick to it, but the clear lines) IS important. And for the second speaker, dealing with what your team partner announced IS also important!!
  • Don’t forget Can’s structure: Assertion, argument, example
  • There is NO WAY you do not rebutt
  • If you are in the second half of the debate, state your extension in a clear way ( you are not yet good enough not to do it…)
  • End of speech plan: re-tell your points so that the adjudicators can confirm some stuff they might have not written down or noticed because of lack of time
  • Don’t eat the members of the other house but at least attack them!! This is not a Teletubbies discussion about how green the grass could be...
  • If you are confused, don’t tell the judges you are: either they noticed it and there is no need to remind them of it, they understood, either they didn’t and you should not point it out!
  • Try to finish your sentence, or there’s no human possibility for the judges to follow your mind
Tips learnt at the Oxford IV 2004:
  • Points of information should only be taken when you are in a strong position (i.e.: you are giving an argument you know you can defend well).
  • Reversely only ask for points of information when the speaker seems to be in a weaker position. · Never take a point right after the end of your protected time because the other guy will have had maybe 20 seconds to think about what he will say.
  • Don’t forget that, as the speaker, those 5 minutes are yours: don’t hesitate to interrupt the person asking a point if it takes too long.
  • For Prop1 : The goal for Prop1 is to define the motion and give the main arguments of the proposition. The definition should take 1-2 minutes. The first speaker should be the one giving the most important arguments. The second speaker rebuts what the first speaker of the opposition said and gives the other arguments. Prop1 should try to give the key arguments of the debate and try not to leave any important argument to Prop2; they are competing against each other after all. However don’t go overboard and try to give too many arguments. Just 2 or 3 per speaker will do, just give the most important ones.
  • The role of Opp1 is similar to that of Prop1 in that they must give the main arguments against the motion. The goal is that Opp2 should not be given the chance to give a key argument.
  • On the second half of the table: the third speaker of each side are supposed to give an EXTENSION to the debate, which could be: either a key argument that hasn’t been mentioned yet (which means the other team hasn’t done a good job), or ….an extension. It’s really hard to define what a good extension is. Basically, you should explore an aspect of the problem that hasn’t been tacked yet. That extension is very important, it is the contribution of the team to the debate, what they bring on the table.
  • The fourth speaker of each team on the other hand should NOT bring any new material to the debate. His role is to summarize what has been said. There are two ways to go about it. First you follow the chronological structure of the debate, given the different arguments that have been brought up and clearly show that your team wins by having better arguments. The second and probably the better option is to be thematic and identify 2 or 3 themes that have come up several times throughout the debate. The key four the fourth speaker is to find the AREAS OF CLASHES : the 2 or 3 major points which have been argued, counter-argued, counter-counter-argued over and over and show that your team comes up as the better one.
  • Don’t forget teamwork : always refer to what your team mate has said or will say, try to emphasize the contribution on your team to the debate.
  • Never contradict the other team on your side, you should give a impression of unity within your side of the house, although you should try to show in a subtle and almost subliminal way that you and your team mate have done a better job.
  • How pertinent, logical, consistent, easy to follow, clever, original, etc. are they ?
  • The quality of the examples/anecdotes used to illustrate the arguments
  • speaking style - use of rhetorical devices, humour, timing, etc.
  • manner/presence - eye contact ( shouldn't do too much note reading…), body language
  • Does the speaker deal adequately with points of information ? Is s/he destabilized ? Is the answer satisfactory ? ( N.b. a poor question deserves a dismissive answer…)
  • Rebuttal: are all the arguments put forward by the opposing team acknowledged and eventually dealt with ? ( N.b. if a speaker knows that a point raised by the previous speaker (opposing team ) will be dealt with later by a team-mate, s/he may simply point this out, but all new arguments must be acknowledged and ultimately answered )
  • On an individual level - should be a sense of progression, speakers refer back and forward. Speakers respect their roles: first speaker defines the motion, introduces his/her team and gives a foretaste of their arguments, the last speaker ties up the rebuttal, sums up his/her team's position. Speakers must not contradict other members of their team !
  • Collectively - should be a sense of cohesion
  • Examples only !
  • Teams may be awarded extra credit if they were particularly entertaining, if they managed to destabilize their opponents with their POI's, if they did a good job of defending the harder point of view.
  • Teams may be penalised for not asking enough POI's , or poor ones, or badly formulated ones, for being unclear or boring, for contradicting each other, for failing to rebut, for not respecting the rules or the spirit of the game, etc.
Ressources on debating
Recommended YouTube channels
BP speeches in tournaments
Thessaloniki WUDC 2016 - Finals
Oxford IV 2012 speech

Here is a film for the following motion: "THBT the Greek military should suspend democratic government until economic recovery " from the Oxford IV 2012.


Debating exercises

Just a Minute is a BBC Radio 4 radio comedy panel game.The four panellists are challenged to speak for one minute on a given subject without "repetition, hesitation, or deviation".

  • You should avoid repetition of any word or phrase, although challenges based upon very common words such as "and, I etc" are generally rejected except in extreme cases (for example, when repeated half a dozen times or more). The only words you can repeat are the ones of the subject.
  • "Hesitation" is watched very strictly: even a momentary pause before resumption of the subject can give rise to a successful challenge, as can tripping over one's words. It's basically kamoulox-like.
  • “Deviation” refers to deviating too far from the subject, deviating from the English language as we know it, deviating from grammar as we understand it...

A panellist scores a point for making a correct challenge against whoever is speaking, while the speaker gets a point if the challenge is deemed incorrect. The points system means that great rewards may go to those who make entertaining challenges, even if they do not speak for very long. An often rewarding time to challenge is a few seconds before the minute ends. Here, one could get a point for a challenge, not have to speak very much, and get another point for speaking "as the whistle went".

Try it, it is great fun! It challenges you reactivity, sense of humour, vocabulary and wit!

You can find out more about this great game here.

It basically involves everyone standing up and walking around the classroom. I have to stop and greet people who come my way, and we should exchange names and memorable facts about ourselves ("Hi, I'm Pierre, I'm lefthanded, how are you ? - Fine thanks, I'm Mandy, I have a pet dog named Snowy").

Then, everybody sits down and for each person in the room, other students have to remember facts about him/her until at least three facts have been given.

This one functions as a chain. I give a statement (eg, "the pope is not sexy at all") and my neighbour has to immediately come up with a rebuttal, a single counter-argument starting with "I couldn't disagree more". Then he passes another statement to his neighbour etc... The purpose is to cycle faster and faster through students. Hesitation is banned. This is a killer training for accepting points of information.

Examples of game sequences in Rotterdam include : "Pedophilia is bad - I couldn't disagree more ; it actually helps to bridge the generation gap. Your wife is lovely - I couldn't disagree more ; not only is she lovely, but clever and delicious as well." Brilliant when everybody's awake ; a favourite of mine.

The most complicated one. In the beginning, the classroom is secretely split between "mafia" and "peasants" (the teacher gives people little papers to choose from - the ratio should be approximately 3 or 4 peasants for 1 mafia). It should include at least 10 people for it to be fun. Then each round, everybody closes their eyes, the mafiosi "wake up" and choose one peasant to kill (ie, to remove from the game).

Everybody goes to sleep again, and wakes up, and a "free for all" debate starts about who the peasants should kill (their purpose is to eradicate a member of the mafia ; these members are hiding amongst their ranks and they have to unmask them !

Debate arguments frequently include individuals' behaviour/body language and mafia killing patterns). The lucky one is happily removed from the game and the teacher announces whether s/he was a mafioso (peasants are relieved) or not (cannibal peasants are sighing). A new round is about to start, unless there are not enough people left and the last man standing's team wins.

The game might be complicated by adding a special role - a "detective" peasant who'd ask the teacher each round while everyone's asleep if someone is mafia or not. Of course, he should try and influence peasant debates since he's got more information, but he doesn't want to show off too much since he's got no additional protection - if the mafia guesses who he is, his time will be running out...

It's a highly political game, better played with about a dozen people. Of course, it's not fun when you're the first one removed ;p


Famous speeches

One good way to get started in debating is to have a look at speeches made by great speakers who have preceeded us. Below are some of those speeches that have made history.

This website is a good place to find great speeches.

Here is another one.

My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.


Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans. That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people: «Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].»

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people: «Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].»

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Hello, Chicago.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Sen. McCain.

Sen. McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him; I congratulate Gov. Palin for all that they've achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years, the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady, Michelle Obama.

Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the new White House.

And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother's watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you've given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best — the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

To my chief strategist David Axelrod who's been a partner with me every step of the way.

To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics. You made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy, who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

This is your victory.

And I know you didn't do this just to win an election. And I know you didn't do it for me.

You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime — two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage or pay their doctors' bills or save enough for their child's college education.

There's new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world: Our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those — to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we've already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons — because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America — the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

Gentlemen:

By an anonymous summons, an attempt has been made to convene you together; how inconsistent with the rules of propriety, how unmilitary, and how subversive of all order and discipline, let the good sense of the army decide...

Thus much, gentlemen, I have thought it incumbent on me to observe to you, to show upon what principles I opposed the irregular and hasty meeting which was proposed to have been held on Tuesday last - and not because I wanted a disposition to give you every opportunity consistent with your own honor, and the dignity of the army, to make known your grievances. If my conduct heretofore has not evinced to you that I have been a faithful friend to the army, my declaration of it at this time would be equally unavailing and improper. But as I was among the first who embarked in the cause of our common country. As I have never left your side one moment, but when called from you on public duty. As I have been the constant companion and witness of your distresses, and not among the last to feel and acknowledge your merits. As I have ever considered my own military reputation as inseparably connected with that of the army. As my heart has ever expanded with joy, when I have heard its praises, and my indignation has arisen, when the mouth of detraction has been opened against it, it can scarcely be supposed, at this late stage of the war, that I am indifferent to its interests.

But how are they to be promoted? The way is plain, says the anonymous addresser. If war continues, remove into the unsettled country, there establish yourselves, and leave an ungrateful country to defend itself. But who are they to defend? Our wives, our children, our farms, and other property which we leave behind us. Or, in this state of hostile separation, are we to take the two first (the latter cannot be removed) to perish in a wilderness, with hunger, cold, and nakedness? If peace takes place, never sheathe your swords, says he, until you have obtained full and ample justice; this dreadful alternative, of either deserting our country in the extremest hour of her distress or turning our arms against it (which is the apparent object, unless Congress can be compelled into instant compliance), has something so shocking in it that humanity revolts at the idea. My God! What can this writer have in view, by recommending such measures? Can he be a friend to the army? Can he be a friend to this country? Rather, is he not an insidious foe? Some emissary, perhaps, from New York, plotting the ruin of both, by sowing the seeds of discord and separation between the civil and military powers of the continent? And what a compliment does he pay to our understandings when he recommends measures in either alternative, impracticable in their nature?

I cannot, in justice to my own belief, and what I have great reason to conceive is the intention of Congress, conclude this address, without giving it as my decided opinion, that that honorable body entertain exalted sentiments of the services of the army; and, from a full conviction of its merits and sufferings, will do it complete justice. That their endeavors to discover and establish funds for this purpose have been unwearied, and will not cease till they have succeeded, I have not a doubt. But, like all other large bodies, where there is a variety of different interests to reconcile, their deliberations are slow. Why, then, should we distrust them? And, in consequence of that distrust, adopt measures which may cast a shade over that glory which has been so justly acquired; and tarnish the reputation of an army which is celebrated through all Europe, for its fortitude and patriotism? And for what is this done? To bring the object we seek nearer? No! most certainly, in my opinion, it will cast it at a greater distance.

For myself (and I take no merit in giving the assurance, being induced to it from principles of gratitude, veracity, and justice), a grateful sense of the confidence you have ever placed in me, a recollection of the cheerful assistance and prompt obedience I have experienced from you, under every vicissitude of fortune, and the sincere affection I feel for an army I have so long had the honor to command will oblige me to declare, in this public and solemn manner, that, in the attainment of complete justice for all your toils and dangers, and in the gratification of every wish, so far as may be done consistently with the great duty I owe my country and those powers we are bound to respect, you may freely command my services to the utmost of my abilities.

While I give you these assurances, and pledge myself in the most unequivocal manner to exert whatever ability I am possessed of in your favor, let me entreat you, gentlemen, on your part, not to take any measures which, viewed in the calm light of reason, will lessen the dignity and sully the glory you have hitherto maintained; let me request you to rely on the plighted faith of your country, and place a full confidence in the purity of the intentions of Congress; that, previous to your dissolution as an army, they will cause all your accounts to be fairly liquidated, as directed in their resolutions, which were published to you two days ago, and that they will adopt the most effectual measures in their power to render ample justice to you, for your faithful and meritorious services. And let me conjure you, in the name of our common country, as you value your own sacred honor, as you respect the rights of humanity, and as you regard the military and national character of America, to express your utmost horror and detestation of the man who wishes, under any specious pretenses, to overturn the liberties of our country, and who wickedly attempts to open the floodgates of civil discord and deluge our rising empire in blood.

By thus determining and thus acting, you will pursue the plain and direct road to the attainment of your wishes. You will defeat the insidious designs of our enemies, who are compelled to resort from open force to secret artifice. You will give one more distinguished proof of unexampled patriotism and patient virtue, rising superior to the pressure of the most complicated sufferings. And you will, by the dignity of your conduct, afford occasion for posterity to say, when speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to mankind, "Had this day been wanting, the world had never seen the last stage of perfection to which human nature is capable of attaining."

I am proud to come to this city as the guest of your distinguished Mayor, who has symbolized throughout the world the fighting spirit of West Berlin. And I am proud to visit the Federal Republic with your distinguished Chancellor who for so many years has committed Germany to democracy and freedom and progress, and to come here in the company of my fellow American, General Clay, who has been in this city during its great moments of crisis and will come again if ever needed.Two thousand years ago, two thousand years ago, the proudest boast was "civis Romanus sum." Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is "Ich bin ein Berliner."

(I appreciate my interpreter translating my German.)

There are many people in the world who really don't understand, or say they don't, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world.

Let them come to Berlin.

There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future.

Let them come to Berlin.

And there are some who say, in Europe and elsewhere, we can work with the Communists.

Let them come to Berlin.

And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress.

Lass' sie nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin.

Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect. But we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in - to prevent them from leaving us. I want to say on behalf of my countrymen who live many miles away on the other side of the Atlantic, who are far distant from you, that they take the greatest pride, that they have been able to share with you, even from a distance, the story of the last 18 years. I know of no town, no city, that has been besieged for 18 years that still lives with the vitality and the force, and the hope, and the determination of the city of West Berlin.

While the wall is the most obvious and vivid demonstration of the failures of the Communist system - for all the world to see - we take no satisfaction in it; for it is, as your Mayor has said, an offense not only against history but an offense against humanity, separating families, dividing husbands and wives and brothers and sisters, and dividing a people who wish to be joined together.

What is true of this city is true of Germany: real, lasting peace in Europe can never be assured as long as one German out of four is denied the elementary right of free men, and that is to make a free choice. In 18 years of peace and good faith, this generation of Germans has earned the right to be free, including the right to unite their families and their nation in lasting peace, with good will to all people.

You live in a defended island of freedom, but your life is part of the main. So let me ask you, as I close, to lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today, to the hopes of tomorrow, beyond the freedom merely of this city of Berlin, or your country of Germany, to the advance of freedom everywhere, beyond the wall to the day of peace with justice, beyond yourselves and ourselves to all mankind.

Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades.

All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin.

And, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words "Ich bin ein Berliner."

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day - this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that: let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

The United States stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power. It is a solemn moment for the American democracy. For with this primacy in power is also joined an awe-inspiring accountability to the future. As you look around you, you must feel not only the sense of duty done, but also you must feel anxiety lest you fall below the level of achievement. Opportunity is here now, clear and shining, for both our countries. To reject it or ignore it or fritter it away will bring upon us all the long reproaches of the aftertime.

It is necessary that constancy of mind, persistency of purpose, and the grand simplicity of decision shall rule and guide the conduct of the English-speaking peoples in peace as they did in war. We must, and I believe we shall, prove ourselves equal to this severe requirement.

I have a strong admiration and regard for the valiant Russian people and for my wartime comrade, Marshal Stalin. There is deep sympathy and goodwill in Britain - and I doubt not here also - toward the peoples of all the Russias and a resolve to persevere through many differences and rebuffs in establishing lasting friendships.

It is my duty, however, to place before you certain facts about the present position in Europe.

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe.

Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow.

The safety of the world, ladies and gentlemen, requires a unity in Europe, from which no nation should be permanently outcast. It is from the quarrels of the strong parent races in Europe that the world wars we have witnessed, or which occurred in former times, have sprung.

Twice the United States has had to send several millions of its young men across the Atlantic to fight the wars. But now we all can find any nation, wherever it may dwell, between dusk and dawn. Surely we should work with conscious purpose for a grand pacification of Europe within the structure of the United Nations and in accordance with our Charter.

In a great number of countries, far from the Russian frontiers and throughout the world, Communist fifth columns are established and work in complete unity and absolute obedience to the directions they receive from the Communist center. Except in the British Commonwealth and in the United States where Communism is in its infancy, the Communist parties or fifth columns constitute a growing challenge and peril to Christian civilization.

The outlook is also anxious in the Far East and especially in Manchuria. The agreement which was made at Yalta, to which I was a party, was extremely favorable to Soviet Russia, but it was made at a time when no one could say that the German war might not extend all through the summer and autumn of 1945 and when the Japanese war was expected by the best judges to last for a further eighteen months from the end of the German war.

I repulse the idea that a new war is inevitable - still more that it is imminent. It is because I am sure that our fortunes are still in our own hands and that we hold the power to save the future, that I feel the duty to speak out now that I have the occasion and the opportunity to do so.

I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war. What they desire is the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines.

But what we have to consider here today while time remains, is the permanent prevention of war and the establishment of conditions of freedom and democracy as rapidly as possible in all countries. Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them. They will not be removed by mere waiting to see what happens; nor will they be removed by a policy of appeasement.

What is needed is a settlement, and the longer this is delayed, the more difficult it will be and the greater our dangers will become.

From what I have seen of our Russian friends and allies during the war, I am convinced that there is nothing they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for weakness, especially military weakness.

For that reason the old doctrine of a balance of power is unsound. We cannot afford, if we can help it, to work on narrow margins, offering temptations to a trial of strength.

Last time I saw it all coming and I cried aloud to my own fellow countrymen and to the world, but no one paid any attention. Up till the year 1933 or even 1935, Germany might have been saved from the awful fate which has overtaken her and we might all have been spared the miseries Hitler let loose upon mankind.

There never was a war in history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe. It could have been prevented, in my belief, without the firing of a single shot, and Germany might be powerful, prosperous and honored today; but no one would listen and one by one we were all sucked into the awful whirlpool.

We must not let it happen again. This can only be achieved by reaching now, in 1946, a good understanding on all points with Russia under the general authority of the United Nations Organization and by the maintenance of that good understanding through many peaceful years, by the whole strength of the English-speaking world and all its connections.

If the population of the English-speaking Commonwealth be added to that of the United States, with all that such cooperation implies in the air, on the sea, all over the globe, and in science and in industry, and in moral force, there will be no quivering, precarious balance of power to offer its temptation to ambition or adventure. On the contrary there will be an overwhelming assurance of security.

If we adhere faithfully to the Charter of the United Nations and walk forward in sedate and sober strength, seeking no one's land or treasure, seeking to lay no arbitrary control upon the thoughts of men, if all British moral and material forces and convictions are joined with your own in fraternal association, the high roads of the future will be clear, not only for us but for all, not only for our time but for a century to come.