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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.

2018 Carret Essay Promplt

Thomas Jefferson’s beloved Charlottesville, Virginia made international news this past August when thousands of demonstrators organized by white  nationalists descended on the city to oppose the planned removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. Counterdemonstrators organized in response, confrontations between the two groups became violent—indeed deadly—and the President of the United States failed to condemn what members of his own party called domestic terrorism. Local Charlottesville activist, Tanesha Hudson, invoked Jefferson when lambasting Trump: “You okayed this activity,” she said in response to the President’s comments. “This is the face of supremacy. This is what we deal with every day, being African-American. And this has always been the reality of Charlottesville. You can’t stand in one corner in this city and not look at the Master sitting on top of Monticello. He looks down on us. He’s been looking down on this city for God knows how long. This is Charlottesville.”

In a six-to-eight-page essay (1,500-2,000 words) discuss Hudson’s statement by supporting a clear argument in response to the following: How would Thomas Jefferson situate himself and his beliefs in relationship to the two groups of demonstrators and their values? Would he align himself more with one group than the other? Why? And how?

2018 Essay Winners

Name Award Title
Naomi Perry First Place “The Wolf by the Ear: The Jeffersonian Solution to Conflict in Charlottesville”
Caroline Redd Second Place “Thomas Jefferson: A Contradiction of Beliefs”
Natalia Conte Third Place “Hemings, Hypocrisy, and the Continued Whitewashing of American Politics”