What Is The John Adams Society?

The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society (JAS) exists to provide a forum for conservative political and philosophical debate in the state of Minnesota. In accordance with this goal, the JAS holds eight debates each year, along with various other events such as toasting sessions, the annual banquet, and teas. It should be noted that, in the spirit of fostering a cohesive community of conservatives, we are NOT a political organization. We do not, as an organization, endorse or campaign for candidates for public office, or lobby for or against specific legislation.

What Sort Of People Are Members Of The JAS?

At the present moment, the JAS has about 100 Members representing a broad spectrum of professions and varieties of conservative philosophies, even spanning political parties. Our Membership includes lawyers, businessmen, MN legislators, students, scientists, and political activists, among others. Past guests at society debates have included members of the state legislature and candidates for high political office. The political philosophies represented in the Membership include traditionalists, libertarians, religious conservatives, free marketeers, and a great many other varieties of conservative thought which are difficult to cubbyhole.

What Sort Of Topics Do We Debate?

Debate topics are chosen so that a conservative could reasonably fall on either side of the issue. We try to obtain a balance between political, issue oriented topics, and those with a more philosophical bent. Some of our previous debate topics have included:

Resolved: Conservatives Should Wage Cultural Warfare
Resolved: Democracy is the Best Form of Government
Resolved: The Right to Life Admits no Exceptions
Resolved: Hiroshima was Wrong
Resolved: Buy American
Resolved: Victory! (debated shortly after the 1996 elections)

See also Previous Debates

How Are Debates Conducted?

Debates in the JAS are conducted in a loose parliamentary format, without set sides, teams, or judges. Anyone may speak on either side of the topic, and guests are always welcome to speak. Speeches alternate between those supporting the resolution, and those opposing it. After making a speech, a speaker may, at his option, accept questions from the audience. One unique feature of our debates is that there is no cloture: i.e. it is never in order to "move the previous question." This means that it is absolutely necessary for individuals to show restraint by limiting the length of their own speeches. Another important point is that gentlemen wishing to speak on the floor of the society must wear a tie. Ladies should adhere to a comparable sartorial standard. Once all who wish to speak have done so, the body votes on the resolution, either passing or defeating it.

Is That All?

Hardly!! The JAS holds toasting sessions once or twice per year, at which Members and guests sing songs (many spoofs as well as traditional) and make good conservative toasts while partaking of the mysterious Green Cup. Once per year, an Annual Dinner is held for Members and their spouses. This provides an opportunity to socialize in a somewhat more refined atmosphere than is provided by a toasting session. Additionally, there is much more to debate than is described above, since the JAS has a great many traditions and customs which are observed. These are far too numerous to list here, and are best learned by observing the society in action.

How Does One Become A Member?

Membership in the JAS is elective, with new Members being elected twice per year, in January and June. In order to be considered for election to Membership, an individual must have attended at least two, and spoken at at least one, of the four debates preceding that election caucus. The only differences between a Member of the JAS and a guest are that only Members may vote for society officers and for the election of new Members. Additionally, only Members may attend the annual banquet. Members are expected to pay dues, which currently stand at $50 per year, in order to remain in good standing.

This spirit, however, without knowledge, would be little better than a brutal rage. Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write. Let every order and degree among the people rouse their attention and animate their resolution. Let them all become attentive to the grounds and principles of government, ecclesiastical and civil. Let us study the law of nature; search into the spirit of the British constitution; read the histories of ancient ages; contemplate the great examples of Greece and Rome; set before us the conduct of our own British ancestors, who have defended for us the inherent rights of mankind against foreign and domestic tyrants and usurpers, against arbitrary kings and cruel priests, in short, against the gates of earth and hell.

-- John Adams from "A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law" - 1765