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12 “Hints to Anti-Slavery Debaters” by the New England Anti-Slavery Society. 1841


  1. Keep your temper.
  2. Stick to the point, and keep your opponent to it.
  3. Don’t ridicule his arguments, but show that they ridicule themselves.
  4. Make no random statements, prove all things.
  5. Have your proofs ready, so that you can turn to them at once. Nothing tires and provokes an audience like fumbling and fumbling for what you should have at your fingers’ ends.
  6. Never present an argument which you are not sure is sound.
  7. Never degrade yourself and your subject by stooping to bandy words with your opponent, nor by playing off witticisms and smart speeches to set the audience a giggling.
  8. Don’t declaim but argue.
  9. Don’t be abstruse, far−fetched, and wire−drawn*, but plain and simple, so that every body can understand exactly what you mean.
  10. Don’t try to set off yourself, but your subject.
  11. Don’t leave a point till you have settled it. One point settled is better than a thousand made plausible.
  12. Don’t waste your time on little things, but, at the outset, seize some great point, and push it; powder spent on small game is thrown away.”