“…to foster a spirit of intellectual curiosity and critical inquiry, to encourage and protect the exchange and examination of ideas regardless of orthodoxy, and to serve as a forum for respectful and constructive dialogue…”– Preamble, Constitution of the Senate of the American Whig-Cliosophic Society
For more than 250 years, the Senate of the American Whig-Cliosophic Society has been where Princetonians come to debate the “great public issues of our time.”
The Senate is rooted in the ancient rivalry between the American Whig (“Whig”) and Cliosophic (“Clio”) societies, which under the guidance of John Witherspoon developed into literary societies devoted to the teaching of writing and rhetoric, parliamentary skills, and above all reasoned debate. Over their long history, the Societies have played a key role in the debates that shaped our nation, from the American Revolution and the question of slavery to more recent issues, such as intervention in Iraq and the impeachments of former President Trump.
While the issues at hand and the forums in which they have been discussed have changed since the American Whig and Cliosophic Societies first met on the field of rhetorical battle, the urgency of subjecting the ideas shaping our world to the most rigorous examination has not. In particular, the Madisonian ideal of tolerance of differing opinions, and the humble concession that we may be wrong, continues to guide the spirit of debate in the Senate today. In committing to granting our members “the broadest possible latitude to speak and discuss ideas,” necessary to form a vital, questioning, and free society, we prepare our members for intelligent participation in the life of the nation our founders did so much to establish.
We invite you to come to the Senate, reveling in the “friction of minds” that shaped generations of Princetonians before us. As much as the Society and the Senate have changed through the years, our mission remains fundamentally the same: to encourage a new generation of students to “deepen its commitment to public affairs and to participate in the public discourse with civility, humility, and humour.”
Instruments of Organization
Transparency and Record-Keeping
Senate Debate Information
2024 Senate Officers
Khoa Sands ’26, President of the Senate
Anuj Krishnan ’26, Deputy President of the Senate
Previous Term Officers
2023 Senate Officers
Daniel Shaw ’25, President of the Senate
Afzal Hussain ’25, Deputy President of the Senate
Laura Zhang ’25, Deputy President of the Senate
Nina Noble ’26, Deputy President of the Senate
Zach Siegel ’25, Deputy President of the Senate
Lawson Wright ’27, Senate First Year Officer
2022 Senate Officers
Karina Wugang ’24, President of the Senate
Daniel Shaw ’25, Deputy President of the Senate
Ferenc Somogyi ’25, Deputy President of the Senate
2021 Senate Officers
Rebecca Han ’22, President of the Senate
Debates: 2023 Term
Note that debate winners are determined by the side which flips more votes, not by the side which wins the most votes.
S/1-2024 Trump Election Disqualification
“This House would bar Donald Trump from running for office on the basis of the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionist officers and candidates.”
There are currently no past debates from this term. For previous term debates, see below.
To see historic debate records from 2002-2023, click here. For records before 2002, please contact the Society Historian, Finn Doyle ’27.