Michigan Society

Sons of the American Revolution

Joseph S. Rumbaugh Historical Oration Contest

Michigan high school students have the opportunity to show their literary skill as well as their historical and patriotic knowledge by entering the Joseph S. Rumbaugh Historical Oration Contest. The contest is open all students attending home schools, public, parochial, or private high schools who are in grades 9 through 12 within the jurisdiction of the sponsoring SAR state society or district. The Michigan Society and the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution sponsor this Contest. The National Association of Secondary School Principals has placed it on the Advisory List of the National Contests and Activities.

In 1945 an Ohio SAR member, Douglass G. High, originated this creative exercise in a Cincinnati high school. Two years later the NSSAR assumed the national sponsorship. Mr. High was the first Chairman on the NSSAR Oration Committee, serving in this capacity for five years, and after he died in 1952, The National Society attached his name to the contest as a memorial.  In 1993, the name associated with the contest was changed to Joseph S. Rumbaugh, a Florida SAR member who actively promoted the contest, and was also an inventor and prominent philanthropist.

The Rumbaugh Oration Contest is designed to explore the influence of the Revolutionary War on present-day America.  The goals of the contest are:

Contestants present an original oration of not less than five minutes not more than six minutes. The composition must be original and be about the history of the American Revolution. It may be about a personality, an event, or a document about the War. The student should demonstrate the relationship of the selected subject to the United States today. The oration must be essentially the same as the submitted manuscript. Notes and props (including military uniforms) may not be used in the presentation.

The National competition prizes are: $5,000 (First Place), $3,000 (Second Place), and $2,000 (Third Place). All three winners receive an Olympic-sized medal.  All other finalists receive a $400 award, and all other national contestants, $200. The First Prize winner will attend a Youth Awards Luncheon held the day after the event. The First Place Michigan finalist also receives a silver Olympic-sized medallion (cash prize to be determined.)

Preliminary rounds of the contest are held by state societies and/or local chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution to select one winner from each participating state. The National Society competition between State Society winners is held during the NSSAR's National Congress held in June/July every year. Each participating state society or district should provide information regarding the contest to senior high school, parochial, private and home-schooled speech and/or history teachers and principals or counselors as early as possible.

By action of the 1985 Congress, all judges in the Joseph S. Rumbaugh Historical Oration Contest must be members of the SAR. The judges will select the winners by the following criteria: Composition, Delivery, Significance, and History.

Currently, the deadline for submitting Michigan applications is January 1 of the contest year, but dates may vary by local chapter. National submissions must be received by the National SAR Contest chairman no later than four weeks prior to the start of the annual NSSAR Congress. For more information about the contest and how to complete application and sponsorship forms, please click on the links at the right.



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