2019 Oratorical Competition

The American Legion Oratorical Contest exists to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students. Since 1938, the program has presented participants with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, the history of our nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly, and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship. The program has featured numerous politicians and prominent contestants over the years, including former president candidate Alan Keyes and CNN anchor Lou Dobbs.

Young orators earn some of the most generous college scholarships available to high school students. Over $138,000 in scholarships can be awarded each year. The overall national contest winner gets an $18,000 scholarship. Second place takes home $16,000, and third gets $14,000. Each department (state) winner who is certified into and participates in the national contest’s first round receives a $1,500 scholarship. Those who advance past the first round receive an additional $1,500 scholarship. The American Legion’s National Organization awards the scholarships, which can be used at any college or university in the United States.

High school students under age 20 are eligible. Competition begins at the post level and advances to a state competition. Legion department representatives certify one winner per state to the national contest, where department winners compete against each other in two speaking rounds. The contest caps off with a final round that decides the three top finishers.

Speaking subjects must be on some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, with some emphasis on the duties and obligations of citizens to our government. Speeches are eight to 10 minutes long; three- to five-minute speeches on an assigned topic also are part of the contest.

If you have any questions, please email Christopher Matthews, Post 372 Oratorical Chairman at cmatthews0511@gmail.com.

How to Begin Your Oratorical Journey

The American Legion National Oratorical Contest is a multi-level contest. In order to get to the State Oratorical Contest you must participate in a:

Post Level

 

Post 372's Oratorical Competition has been cancelled due to the lack of contestants.

District Level

Post 372 is one of 17 Posts in the 5th District. The District-level Oratorical Competition will be held in February 2019 at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum located at 101 W. 1st Street.

Again, each contestant will deliver their prepared oration as well as an oration on a randomly assigned constitutional topic. All contestants, at each contest level, are required to speak on the same Assigned Topic.​ Each Assigned Topic goes in a blank, sealed envelope and is selected at random on the day of the contest. Participants should be knowledgeable on each topic so they can prepare their speech in the five minute time frame.

The winner of the District contest will compete at the Area Contest.

Area Contest

The state of Florida is broken up into 6 areas. The 5th District falls into the Northern area. The Area-level competition will be held in February 2019 at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum located at 101 W. 1st Street. 

Again, each contestant will deliver their prepared oration as well as an oration on a randomly assigned constitutional topic. All contestants, at each contest level, are required to speak on the same Assigned Topic.​ Each Assigned Topic goes in a blank, sealed envelope and is selected at random on the day of the contest. Participants should be knowledgeable on each topic so they can prepare their speech in the five minute time frame.

 

The winner of the Area contest will go on to compete at the State Contest.

State Contest

Six contestants – one from each area - will travel to Orlando, FL to compete for the State Oratorical Title. The State Competition will be held in March 2019 at The American Legion, Department of Florida, 1912A Lee Road, Orlando, FL 32810.

Once again, each contestant will deliver their prepared oration as well as an oration on a randomly assigned constitutional topic. The randomly assigned topic will be drawn by after the completion of the prepared oration portion of the Competition.

All contestants, at each contest level, are required to speak on the same Assigned Topic.

**Each Assigned Topic goes in a blank, sealed envelope and is selected at random on the day of the contest. Participants should be knowledgeable on each topic so they can prepare their speech in the five minute time frame.

The first place winner will then go on to compete in the National Oratorical Contest. 

National Contest

The National Oratorical Contest is a three-day event where the winners from each state come together to compete in Indianapolis, Indiana.
 

Contest Prizes

Florida State Finals winners will receive:
 

1st Place – $2,500 scholarship and opportunity to compete in the National Oratorical Contest

2nd Place – $1,500 scholarship

3rd Place – $1,000 scholarship

4th and 5th Place – $500 scholarship each

National Finals winners will receive:

1st Place – $18,000 scholarship

2nd Place – $16,000 scholarship

3rd Place – $ 14,000 scholarship
 

What to Prepare

Part One: The Prepared Oration

Contestants must prepare an original oration from memory on a phase of the Constitution of the United States which will give emphasis to the attendant duties and obligations of a citizen to our government.

The prepared oration must be the original effort of each contestant and cannot be less than eight minutes or more than ten minutes for delivery.

In the Prepared Oration, as well as in the Assigned Topics, quotations must be indicated as such. Where quotations are more than ten (10) words in length, the author’s name must be given in the manuscript and cited orally.

Contestants may have in their procession a copy of their prepared oration in the first holding room. The copy may be in electronic or paper form. They may consult the copy of their prepared oration until they exit the holding room in order to begin the contest, at which time the copy of the prepared oration will be surrendered to the contestant official who is monitoring the first holding room.

Note: The same subject and oration used at the state contest must be used at the National level.

Part Two: Assigned Topics

Assigned Topics for 2019 Oratorical Contest

Amendment 1

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.

Amendment 4

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.

Amendment 13

  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.

Amendment 21

  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.

The purpose of the Assigned Topics is to test the speaker’s knowledge of the subject, the extent of his research, and the ability to discuss the assigned topic as related to the basic principles of government under the Constitution. The Assigned Topic Oration cannot be less than three minutes or more than five minutes for delivery.

The Assigned Topic** shall be drawn at random by the contest official in full view of the audience, immediately before the last speaker begins delivery of his or her Prepared Oration. Each contestant will be given approximately five (5) minutes to prepare for their assigned topic speech. After the five minute time frame is up, the contestant will be brought back to the stage to delivery their Assigned Topic Oration.

  • All contestants, at each contest level, are required to speak on the same Assigned Topic.

**Each Assigned Topic goes in a blank, sealed envelope and is selected at random on the day of the contest. Participants should be knowledgeable on each topic so they can prepare their speech in the five minute time frame.   [Back]

Resources

More information is available at: 

www.floridalegion.org/programs-services/oratorical-competition/resources

 

Rules and Regulations

Please read the rules and regulations available at: www.legion.org/oratorical/rules.