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Liberal Arts Honors

The Pinto Carver Essay Contest

Pinto Carver Essay Topic 2021


Mr. President, I confess that I do not entirely approve of this Constitution at present, but, sir, I am not sure I shall never approve it: for, having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most men, indeed, as well as most sects in religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them it is so far error. Steele, a Protestant, in a dedication tells the pope that the only difference between our two churches, in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrine, is, the Romish church is infallible and the Church of England is never in the wrong. But though many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their sect, few express it so naturally as a certain French lady, who in a little dispute with her sister, said, I don’t know how it happens, Sister, but I meet no body but myself that’s always in the right.Il n’y aque moi qui a toujour raison.

  • Benjamin Franklin, “Address to the Constitutional Convention


The Topic: Benjamin Franklin compromised, giving a rationale for doing so. He convinced others to follow him, and the United States adopted the Constitution, a document that has, in William Safire’s words, “acquired the status of American scripture.” Had Franklin not compromised, we may have had a different document, perhaps one worse, perhaps one better. Write an essay in which you explore the act of compromising, where it has worked or where it has not, examining why and with what results. The act of compromising or not compromising may be historical or contemporary, perhaps one from your personal experience. Needless to say, the more well developed and nuanced your thoughts, the more specific your language, the better.


Eligibility: Current Liberal Arts Honors First Years (Class of 2024) and Sophomores (Class of 2023).


Specifications: 750-1000 words, titled, double-spaced, and typed, with your name in the upper-right hand corner. No cover page.



1st Prize: $1500

2ndPrize: $500

3rdPrize: $250


Submission Deadline: Submit your essay as a pdf to this address by Friday, January 15,2021 at midnight:


Please label the document clearly with your name. No text in the body of the email will come through. The judges reserve the right to withhold awards in the absence of prize worthy essays.