THE LURE OF THE COLLEGE PRIZE
I FELT the lure of prizes from the start and took part in every contest for which I was eligible. A prize always stirred me to activity, and a recollection of its influence upon my studies has led me in later days to stimulate students to similar activity by the establishing of prizes in a number of institutions of learning.
The principal prizes I established were in the public school at Normal, the precinct in which our country home near Lincoln was located, and in some nineteen institutions --seventeen of them state universities--in which I established a prize for the best essay on the science of government. When, some years later, Mr. Philo S. Bennett consulted me in regard to the best use of some money which he desired to leave by will, I recommended similar prizes and upon his death distributed for him funds for the establishment of such prizes in twenty state universities.
In my first year in the academy--"Junior Prep" as it was called--I entered the declamation contest, using as my theme Patrick Henry's famous speech, "Give me liberty or give me death." The judges did not seem to regard me as especially promising. At any rate, I was not near enough to even second place to give me any intense interest in the returns. The next year I entered the declamation contest again, this time taking as my subject by the advice of Mrs. Jones, "The Palmetto and the Pine." The sentiment was most excellent, but my delivery seemed to lack something-- enough to enable two of the contestants to pass me. I came third in the estimate of the judges and Dr. Jones thought that my failure may have been due to indistinctness of articulation. I do not know whether that was true or not, but it spurred me up on that particular subject and