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Philip L. Carret Thomas Jefferson Essay Competition

This is a guide to the Philip L. Carret Thomas Jefferson Essay Competition. The essay competition was endowed in 1997 and was designed to have students reflect on the principles and ideals in Thomas Jefferson's life and career.

2017 Carret Essay Prompt

On March 4, 1801, Thomas Jefferson gave his first presidential inaugural address after a bruising, contested election involving painful personal attacks as well as 36 separate ballots in the House of Representatives. Over 200 years later and after a bruising election of his own, Trump faced a divided nation when he gave his address on Jan. 20, 2017.

Compare these two men’s inaugural speeches addressing their rhetorical styles, specific arguments, and/or receptions after their delivery. What, in your view, are the most significant differences between the two, and what might these differences suggest about the changing values of our nation?

2017 Essay Winners

Name Award Title
Annaliese Jaffey First Place “This American Carnage: Donald Trump, Thomas Jefferson and the Rise of Anti-Intellectualism in the United States.” 
Greg Fulcher Second Place “Exceptionalism and the Modern American Consciousness: Comparing the First Inaugural Addresses of Thomas Jefferson and Donald Trump.”
Julia Guilfoyle Third Place “Fear, Disunity, Discord and Reunifying a Divided Nation: America and the World’s Reception of Thomas Jefferson and Donald Trump’s First Inaugural Addresses.”