This Day in History — November 15

On November 15, 1843, the Campbell-Rice Debate, a forensic marathon on the comparative religious beliefs of the Christian Church and Presbyterian denominations took place in Lexington. Participants included Alexander Campbell, president of Bethany College in West Virginia who represented the Christian Church, Reverend Nathan Rice of Paris speaking for the Presbyterian Church and Henry Clay, in between terms in the U.S. Senate who agreed to be moderator. The debate was held from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Main Street Christian Church and created religious fervor in Lexington. Between November 15 and December 1 when the debate concluded, 130 speeches were given on baptism, the conversion experience, and church creeds. Campbell was well versed at debating his choice of religion, and had done so for twenty-three years. His supporters were emotionally expressive and many were baptized by immersion during his speeches. After the debate, Rice became pastor of churches in New York, St. Louis and Chicago. The Presbyterians published a 912 page record of the debate.

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