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When Margaret Chase and her Skowhegan High School classmates visited the White House and met President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, women did not have the right to vote. Four years later, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. Margaret Chase Smith was a beneficiary of the suffrage movement, becoming one of the first females to make national politics a career. Nevertheless, she believed women also deserved the protection of an Equal Rights Amendment. Debates about “full privileges and responsibilities” for women continue today. Therefore, the Margaret Chase Smith Library invites Maine high school seniors to assess the arguments for and against an Equal Rights Amendment.
The rules of the contest are minimal. It is open to Maine high school seniors. Essays must be typed and double-spaced. Electronic submissions are accepted. Contestants should provide contact information so they can receive notice of final results. For publication purposes, entries should be no longer than 2000 words. As always, quality of evidence, argumentation, and writing are more important than quantity of words. The best essays support personal opinions with historical context and cited facts. Entries are due by Monday, April 1st. Awards will be announced by Friday, May 3rd. The Library will award $1000 for first place, $500 for second, and $250 for third, with an additional five $50 honorable mention prizes. In previous years, selected essays have appeared in the Maine Policy Review, a statewide journal published by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact John Taylor at or 474-7133.