The Philomathean Society (Phillips Academy)

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The Philomathean Society
Abbreviation Philo
Motto Scire est Regere
Formation 1825
Type School club
Affiliations Phillips Academy; Debate Association of New England Independent Schools

The Philomathean Society of Phillips Academy is the oldest secondary school debate union in the United States. Founded in 1825, the Philomathean Society, familiarly known as "Philo," meets weekly in the historical Debate Room of Bulfinch Hall. The earliest record of Philo's doings, preserved, bears the date January 5, 1825. [1] The Philomathean Society was founded by Horatio B. Hackett and Ray Palmer.[2] The Philomathean motto is Scire Est Regere; To Know is to Rule.

The name Philomathean derives from the Ancient Greek for “lover of learning” from Φιλειν meaning "to love," and μάθημα, meaning “learning.” [3]


The earliest known proceedings of the Philomathean Society were in 1825. At that point the constitution required the members pay an entrance fee and dues of twenty-five cents. Later those fees were raised to a dollar.

Now, the club is open to any student of Phillips Academy wishing to participate.

Current activities[edit]

Today, the Philomathean Society is a member of DANEIS, the Debate Association of New England Independent Schools. Philomathean debaters are highly competitive; historically, one or two members of the Society a year have qualified for the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships, representing the United States at the highest level of secondary school debate in the world. The Philomathean Society currently holds meetings in Bulfinch Hall, the English building of Phillips Academy, every Monday evening. The society is entirely student-run.


  1. ^ Waters, Henry Fritz-Gilbert. New England Historical and Genealogical Register (New England Historic Genealogical Society) 31. 
  2. ^ Ward, Herbert D. The New Senior at Andover, 1890.
  3. ^ Woodhouse, S.C. ‘’English-Greek Dictionary: A Vocabulary of the Attic Language’’ (London: George Routledge & Sons, 1910).

External links[edit]