Young people are often woefully ignorant of our history beyond names and dates. People who are not aware of their rights and liberties are less jealous in guarding them. Knowing these two facts, Liberty Nation’s parent organization, One Generation Away, created an essay competition several years ago. It is designed to encourage and entice young students across the U.S. to read the words of the Founders – particularly in the high school curriculum on The Federalist Papers developed by OneGen – and engage with ideas about the nature of government’s proper role and relationship with the people.
Essay questions are derived from OneGen’s publication The Roots of Liberty: Unlocking the Federalist Papers. This year’s question was:
“[L]aw professor Stephen B. Presser argues that, “[f]or the Framers of the Constitution the practice of politics was all about how to distribute power within the government in order to preserve private property, individual rights, and the rule of law which secured both.”
Has the Constitution succeeded in preserving the interests of those outside the majority? If so how and why? If not, how and why?
Nicholas Liu, a high school student from Greenwich, Connecticut, won the Grand Prize of $5,000 and a trip to D.C. with his response. Here is an excerpt:
History has shown that several aspects of the structure of US government have contributed to giving the minority a voice while preserving fundamental democratic rule. As predicted by James Madison in Federalist 10, tyranny of the majority has been restrained by the diversity and breadth of our nation. The structure of the Constitution has effectively preserved the dichotomy on which free society depends — the minority’s acceptance of majority rule, and a willingness to offer those same rights to individuals in the minority.
Congratulations to Mr. Liu as well as the over one dozen other prize-winning students and teachers! Thanks as well to the hundreds and hundreds of other students who submitted entries and the teachers who encouraged them to do so, as well as organizations like Ashbrook Center, Con Source and Essentials in Education, co-laborers in the field of constitutional education who have helped promote this contest.
Our constitutional republic depends on a citizenry which values freedom, and understands why it is important. This contest and related efforts to provide solid grounding in constitutional principles speak to the reality that our future will only be bright if the next generation is steeped in the values that have kept us mostly free for over 200 years.
You can visit RootsofLiberty.org to read all the top essays and the full winners’ list.