Essay Contest

Third Annual

Friends of the Lincoln Collection

High School Essay Contest

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

2018 Winter Essay Contest Winners:

1st place: Nathan Phuong, Homestead High School
2nd place: Bryce Ginder, Carroll High School
3rd place: Nicholas Beer, Wayne New Tech Academy

2018 Spring Lincoln Essay Contest Winners:

1st Place: Bethany Villaruz, Homestead High School
T-2nd Place: Sophie Steele, Northside High School
T-2nd Place: Jessica Melvin, Homestead High School

2017 Essay Contest Winner:

Callie Lehman, Carroll High School


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Essay Prompt: The Lincoln-Douglas debates were a series of debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. Lincoln was running for U.S. Senate as a Republican candidate against Douglas who was the incumbent Democratic senator. These debates covered numerous topics important to the candidates and their platforms for election. Using at least 4 primary sources from the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection (suggestions of primary sources can be found under the “Essay Contest” tab at, formulate an original response to this prompt:

Compare and contrast 1) the role of the media, 2) the candidate’s individual influence, and 3) the issues/topics used to persuade voters during the Lincoln/Douglas Debates 160 years ago in 1858 to the methods practiced in today’s campaigns.

Essay Requirements:  1,500-2,500 words

Historical Timeline

The Lincoln Douglas debates took place in seven towns across Illinois in 1858:

Ottawa on August 21
Freeport on August 27
Jonesboro on September 15
Charleston on September 18
Galesburg on October 7
Quincy on October 13
Alton on October 15

Eligibility:  Indiana High School Students.

Prizes:  $1,000 for first place, $500 for second place, and $250 for third place.

Judging:  Individuals designated by the Friends of the Lincoln Collection board will be the sole and exclusive judges. Winners will be announced in December.

Submission:  Essays must be received by November 9, 2018. Include your name, age, grade, and school. Essays should be in a Word (.doc or .docx) file type.  File name should be as follows: “YourLastName_FirstName_Lincoln.” (ie. Smith_John_Lincoln) Submit online at under the “Essay Contest” tab.

For More Information:  Send inquiries to

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