- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Six teenagers, including an 11th-grader from Arlington, have been named winners of an "Idea of America" essay contest sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The awards ceremony, which was to have been yesterday at the White House, will be rescheduled to an undetermined date. The snowstorm over the weekend prevented several of the finalists from getting to Washington. They were to have been presented medals by first lady Laura Bush, and historian Robert Remini was to have delivered a speech.
Contestants were assigned a 1,200-word essay on a topic that challenged students to research and analyze the principles that define and unite Americans drew more than 1,300 entries from across the nation.
Morghan Transue, 17, of Kendall Park, N.J., was selected as the grand prize winner. She will receive $5,000 from the NEH for her essay on the landmark Supreme Court decision Marbury v. Madison, a 19th-century Supreme Court case that elevated the federal judiciary to equal footing with Congress and the president.
Runners-up, who will receive $1,000 each, are: Jessica Baris, 16, of San Diego; Amy Connolly, 17, of Lawrence, Kan.; Andrea Hearst, 16, of San Francisco; Sean O'Mara, 16, of Easton, Maine; and Matthew Rogan, 17, of Arlington.
Matthew, a junior at Georgetown Day School, wrote about President Washington's response to the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 in establishing the power of the rule of law in a young nation.
Washington led 13,000 federal soldiers against those involved in the Whiskey Rebellion. Although 150 individuals were arrested, only 20 were prosecuted.
"However, Washington's response had much greater consequences for the young nation,"Matthew said.
"Even though Washington did not support the tax [on home-brewed whiskey], he believed he needed to set a precedent: Violent uprisings must not be permitted in the new nation. Washington's dramatic quelling of the rebellion made it clear to citizens that they must invoke change only through peaceful and legal methods, not through armed rebellion."
Matthew said his research on the rebellion in western Pennsylvania gave him more respect for the need for law and order.
"I learned that when people rebel and create discord and terror, people in positions of authority need to react and take a stand against that," he said. "Like the International Monetary Fund demonstrations, they should be far more disciplined than they are."
The son of Michael Rogan and Susan Schaffer, he plans to attend a liberal arts college.
President Bush announced the essay contest, which is part of NEH's "We the People" initiative at a White House ceremony last September to help support the teaching of American history and civics education. In his 2004 budget for NEH submitted earlier this month, he asked Congress for $25 million in new funding to support the initiative.
"Both the overall quality of the winning essays and the number of students who submitted their work suggest a core of young Americans who truly recognize the importance of understanding our nation's history," NEH Chairman Bruce Cole said.
"We hope that next year's essay contest will encourage even more 11th-grade students to participate and gain a deeper understanding of who we are as a nation."


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