Marquette Debate Society

The Marquette Debating Society was founded in September of 1902 by Father Redmond J. Walsh, S. J. to afford debating opportunities for freshmen and sophomores who were excluded from the Fulton Debating Society.  At that time, participation in the Fulton was limited to the best fifty students from the junior and senior classes.

Like the Fulton, the Marquette Society was overseen by a moderator (almost always a Jesuit), elected its own officers, and held its own prize debate.

The officers of the Marquette were elected bi-annually.  One interesting feature of the Marquette is that during its first six years, the Marquette elected a leader of the minority instead of a vice president.

The first Marquette Prize Debate topic in 1903 was, “Resolved: That the Immigration Laws by further social and intellectual requirements should be made more stringent.”  The topics selected for the Marquette Prize Debate dealt with the leading controversies of the period.

Beginning in 1908, the Marquette Prize Debate winners were awarded a gold medal called the Marquette Prize Medal.  For the next fifteen years, the meal was donated by different individuals and organizations. In 1914, the medal was donated by Joseph Lannin, the President of the Boston Red Sox.

In 1924, the Marquette Prize Medal was re-named the Gargan medal when Helena N. Gargan established a permanent trust fund to support the awarding of a gold medal to the winner of the Marquette Prize Debate.  The Gargan medal was donated in memory of her deceased husband, Thomas J. Gargan who was a prominent Boston attorney.  At some point, the composition of the Gargan medal changed from gold to silver. It is unclear when this change occurred.

All the winners of the Marquette Prize debate are listed under the Gargan Medal winners on the Fulton Debate history page.

Many members of the Marquette continued their debate careers as members of the Fulton Debating Society.  So, the history of the Marquette is an integral part of the Fulton Debating Society’s own history.