Lincoln Essay Competition


“We can succeed only by concert. It is not ‘can any of us imagine better?’ but, ‘can we all do better?’ The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.”
~ 1862 Second Annual Message to Congress, President Abraham Lincoln

In his speech to Congress, President Lincoln was rallying Americans to save the Union by supporting his plans on many initiatives—freeing those enslaved, being foremost among them. His impassioned plea to come together to make bold choices could as easily be asked of all people today. The purpose of this year’s prompt is to invite you to examine ways in which people are “rising to the occasion” today in response to any number of challenging issues.

PROMPT 2022:

What gives YOU hope? Identify a challenging issue facing humanity today, whether at the local, state, national, and/or global level. Express why this issue matters to you. Investigate a scientific, legislative, technological, or other type of solution that is currently being proposed or employed to address the issue. Explain what it is and why it holds promise as part of the solution to the problem.


Educator Introduction Letter, LEC 2022
Student Application, LEC 2022
FAQs and TIPS, LEC 2022
Judges Sample Rubric, LEC 2022

To view an organizer template and helpful tips by a former LEC First Place Winner, click HERE.



For the past fifteen years, Hildene has administered the Lincoln Essay Competition informed by our mission: Values into Action. Using Abraham Lincoln’s legacy as touchstone, Hildene seeks to inspire young people to tackle important issues, underscoring the responsibility each of us has to help make our world a better place. The competition is open to all eighth graders in the state of Vermont, whether they enter as part of a class assignment or on their own. Essays are judged on the student’s understanding of the subject, as well as on their ability to convey that understanding through good writing.

The inspiration and prompt change yearly and are published in late November/early December, along with instructions for applying, rules, guidelines, tips and a sample assessment rubric. The Lincoln Essay Competition supports 8th Grade Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts Literacy in Writing.

The competition is judged in four regions. Home-schooled students are encouraged to enter, and will be judged as a member of the region in which they reside. Judges come from a variety of backgrounds, ethnicities, geographical locations, vocations, religions, genders, etc., and include a mix of new and repeat judges every year.  The judges never see anything that identifies the student, their address or the school they attend.

Winners receive certificates, and cash prizes. Each region has a first, second, and third place winner. Honorable Mentions are by discretion. We emphasize to all students and their educators that the most important aspect of the competition is the process of examining a tough issue and endeavoring to articulate a well thought-out and compelling response to it. We commend all participants who show their best effort in offering genuine responses under the very particular expectations and standards of Hildene’s 8th Grade Lincoln Essay Competition.

ANNOUNCING! 2022 Lincoln Essay Competition Winners

2022 Lincoln Essay Competition First Place Essays

2021 Lincoln Essay Competition Winners

2021 Lincoln Essay Competition First Place Essays

2020 Lincoln Essay Competition Winners

2020 Lincoln Essay Competition First Place Essays

2019 Lincoln Essay Competition Winners