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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.

About the Essay Competition

In 1997 Philip Carret endowed an annual essay competition at Elon College. The competition was designed to have students reflect on the principles and ideals in Thomas Jefferson's life and career. The Thomas Jefferson Essay contest is described in the 1997 essay booklet which states, "This annual student essay contest was endowed in 1997 by Philip Carret, a long-time New York investor who visited the college in October 1996. 'Thomas Jefferson, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln, is the greatest statesman this country has ever produced,' Carret said as he established the contest. The contest was held for the first time in spring 1997 and 26 students entered. The top three finishers received cash prizes. Students wrote on a topic that reflected the ideals and principles embodied in Thomas Jefferson's life and career. They were asked to discuss how the president would perceive contemporary American society as a fulfillment of his vision for the infant republic. Each year students must write about a different topic related to Thomas Jefferson and American history. Contestants are provided with a prompt from which to base their essay. 

About the Founder

Philip Carret was a long-time New York investor who visited Elon in October of 1996 at the invitation of Mark Albertson, University Registrar. In 1924, Carret founded and started the Pioneer Mutual Fund and served as its leader for 55 years. In 1964, he founded Carret and Company, a money management firm. On May 28, 1998 Mr. Carret passed away at the age of 101. After visiting Elon in 1996, Mr. Carret was so impressed with Elon and its services and support to student and faculty that in 1997 he endowed $40,000 to sponsor an annual essay competition that required students to reflect on the ideals and principles of Thomas Jefferson. As stated in the 2009 essay booklet, "We (Elon University) are grateful for his wisdom in shaping it so that each new generation of Elon students will be invited to consider the values of a central founder of our nation."