Since 1938, The American Legion has sponsored the “National High School Oratorical Scholarship Program, A Constitutional Speech Contest.” The primary purpose is to instill a better knowledge and appreciation of the United States Constitution in high school students. The contest’s objectives also include the development of leadership qualities, the ability to think and speak clearly, and the preparation for the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship.
Scholarship awards of various amounts are given to winning students at each level of the contest (local post, district, area, state, and national). Scholarship awards at the National Finals are $18,000 for 1st Place, $16,000 for 2nd Place, and $14,000 for 3rd Place. Each State winner who participates in the first round of Nationals receives $1,500. These scholarship awards may be used to attend any college or university in the U.S.A.
The speech contest starts at the local level at American Legion Post 283 in Pacific Palisades on January 27, 2019, and advances to the District level on February 10 in Pacific Palisades Post 283, and to the Area level on February 24 at Hollywood Post 43.
The contest moves on to the California State level in Clovis, CA on March 3, and finally to the National Finals in Indianapolis, Indiana on April 12-14, 2019.
Students are eligible if they are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents of the U.S., and are students under 20 years of age who are enrolled in a high school or junior high school (public, parochial, military, private or home school), commencing with grade 9 and ending with grade 12.
The student contestant writes a speech, but the student presents it as a “Prepared Oration”(without the written text or any notes). The topic is on some aspect of the Constitution of the United States, which the student chooses, with emphasis on the duties and obligations of a citizen to our government (8 minutes minimum to 10 minutes maximum).
Later that same day, after a drawing of one of several constitutional topics, each contestant gives another speech (3 to 5 minutes) on that one “Assigned Topic”. All speeches (both the Prepared Oration and the Assigned Topic Oration) will be made without any text, notes or other aids.
The assigned topic discourse must not consume less than three (3) minutes or more than five (5) minutes for delivery. The purpose of the assigned topic discourse is to test the speaker's knowledge of the subject, the extent of his or her research, and the ability to discuss the topic as related to the basic principles of government under the Constitution.
The assigned topic shall be drawn by the contest official in full view of the audience immediately before the last speaker begins delivery of his or her prepared oration and will be made known to the audience and each contestant approximately five (5) minutes prior to the time of delivery. The topic will be on some phase of the U.S. Constitution, selected from Articles and Sections as listed under assigned topics for the current year's contest in this brochure.
All contestants at each contest level are required to speak in the English language on the same assigned topic.
Assigned Topics for 2019 Oratorical Contest
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
If you have any questions, please call or email:
David M. Card
Chair of the Oratorical Committee
American Legion Post 283, Pacific Palisades
Home office: 310-454-5024
Mobile phone: 310-508-3681
Home address: 1349 Duende Lane, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Scholarship awards at the National Finals are $18,000 for 1st Place, $16,000 for 2nd Place, and $14,000 for 3rd Place. Each State winner who participates in the first round of Nationals receives $1,500. These scholarship awards may be used to attend any college or university in the U.S.A.