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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.

2021 Carret Essay Prompt

The U.S. Capitol, Jefferson’s Legacy, and the 45th and 46th Presidents.

In January 2021, the United States Capitol was stormed by supporters of former President Donald Trump and two weeks later served as a backdrop for President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Students were asked to consider these two events addressing their objectives, rhetoric and/or visual imagery.How is it possible to make sense of Trump’s speech to his supporters, the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20? How might both events dovetail with the American values articulated by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence and/or in his vision for the Capitol Building?

2021 Essay Winners

Name Award Title
Lucy Callicot First Place "The Capitol Hill We Climb"
Molly Logan Second Place "Democracy For Whom and By Whom? The Democratic Legacy of Jefferson, Trump, and Biden"
Rebecca Maupin Third Place "Jefferson Ideals of Beauty and Assumptions of "Greatness" in a Turbulent Era"