Announcing the Winners of the 2018–2019 Civil War Student Essay Contest

The Battle of Gettysburg, published in New York by Joseph A. Joel, 1885 (Gilder Lehrman Institute, GLC02980.01)The Gilder Lehrman Institute received a record 873 submissions for the 2018–2019 Civil War Student Essay Contest. Judges Kevin Cline (2016 National History Teacher of the Year and Indiana History Teacher of the Year (HTOY)), Kevin Dua (2017 Massachusetts HTOY), Kevin Fox (2016 Washington DC HTOY), Patience Le Blanc (2017 Texas HTOY), E'bow Morgan (Gilder Lehrman Master Teacher Fellow based in Long Beach, California), and Kathy White (Gilder Lehrman Master Teacher Fellow based in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina) joined Education Program Coordinator Daniel Pecoraro in reviewing the entries and choosing the winners.

Along with their prizes, each 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner will be invited to attend the 2019 Lincoln Prize Dinner on Tuesday, April 16, with their teacher and two family members. Each winner, including honorable mention winners, will receive a signed copy of David Blight’s Lincoln Prize–winning book Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.

Winners of the 2019 Civil War Essay Contest

High School Division

1st Place ($1,000 prize to the student, $500 prize to the school)
Caitlin Davidson, Carroll Senior High School, Southlake TX
“The American Colonization Society and Underlying Abolitionist Racism”

2nd Place ($750 prize to the student)
Baird Johnson, Stuyvesant High School, New York NY
“The Confederacy: Doomed by Its Foundation”

3rd Place ($500 prize to the student)
Joshua Orszag, Georgetown Day School, Washington DC
“Whales and War: How the Confederates Destroyed the Northern Whaling Industry and Why the Union Let it Happen”

Middle School Division

1st Place ($300 prize to the student)
Eliane Spalding, Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School in Dallas TX
“Lincoln and Davis: Motivational Leaders”

2nd Place ($200 prize to the student)
Cecilia DeGuzman, Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill, Durham NC
“Tears of Ink: The Civil War in Verse”

3rd Place ($100 prize to the student)
Ava Cox, State College of Florida Collegiate School, Bradenton FL
“Civil War: It Wasn’t Just a Man’s Fight!”

Documentary Film Division *

1st Place ($1,000 prize and an archive of great Civil War documentaries to the student)
Rebekah Che, Pennsylvania Homeschoolers AP Online
“A State Divided: How Local Ohio Newspapers Reflected Political Conflict”

2nd Place ($750 prize to the student)
Gabrielle Benkovitz, Notre Dame School, New York NY
“Women’s Clothing during the Civil War”

3rd Place ($500 prize to the student)
Kacie McKeever, Sanford H. Calhoun High School, Merrick NY
“After the Bullet: How Doctors Treated Gunshot Wounds in the Civil War Era”

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order; each student receives a $100 prize)

Nithyani Anandakugan, Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, Acton MA, “Through the Lens of Dred Scott: The Supreme Court’s Antebellum Condition”

Kaitlyn Anderson, Kamehameha Schools Kapalama Campus, Honolulu HI, “From the Grapevine: The Telegraph in the Civil War”

Cate Cogger, Chapel Hill High School, Chapel Hill NC, “Then and Now: The Influence of the Civil War in Art”

James Nguyen, Pennsylvania Homeschoolers AP Online, “Tomahawks and Rifles: The Warriors of the Civil War”

Rachel Torres, Patchogue-Medford High School, Medford NY, “Weathering the War: The Overlooked Impact of Meteorology on the American Civil War”

Nina Smith, West Catholic High School, Grand Rapids MI, “Mathew Brady and Civil War Photography”

Luke Vacha, St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, Philadelphia PA, “‘Thaddeus Stevens frankly and defiantly has declared’: Conviction, Equality, and Suffrage”

* Documentary Film Division winners in the New York area also receive subscriptions to THIRTEEN Passport, provided by WNET, the New York tri-state area’s public media station. For more information on programming and to discover all that THIRTEEN has to offer, visit