Contest Prize Winners

The Stanton Foundation was impressed with the quality and quantity of essays submitted for its ‘Applying History to Help Reunite America’ Contest. It judged essays based upon

  • the rigor of their historical analysis,
  • the quality of their application of historical reasoning,
  • their reflection of reasonably neutral politics, and
  • the creativity and feasibility of their recommendations for reunifying America.

An advisory panel with historians from the Harvard Kennedy School, Stanford’s Hoover Institution, and the University of Chicago assisted with screening submissions.


Tony Craig, “‘…for peace comes dropping slow.’ Lessons from the middle in Northern Ireland’s peace process”

The Foundation determined that this essay best achieves the aims of the contest by drawing meaningful lessons from Northern Ireland’s peace process:

“Those often derided as idealists or peaceniks (or business owners, clergy, sportspeople) are seen in the context of their wider societal intersections, offering more practical alternative perspectives than are usually realized. This essay seeks to highlight simply the margins of these groups’ contributions to peace in Northern Ireland both before and after 1998 in order to make one consider the potential of how similar actions can be promoted in civil society.”

As members of the advisory panel noted, this essay “offers some of the most nuanced analysis of a specific historical analogy and artfully applies it to the present moment.”

Tony Craig is associate professor in Modern History at Staffordshire University. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge.


Aroop Mukharji, “Unity through Education: How America Can Heal its Wounds by Learning from its Past”

The Foundation awards this essay a runner-up prize for its reflection on the similarities and differences between the challenge America faces today and the turmoil of the 1890s and early 1900s, and a compelling argument that “the turn of the century offers us one big idea to help… public education.”

“A robust educational system undergirds progress, stability, and unity. Learning from the successes and failures of one of the most ambitious Progressive Era programs present us with one path forward.”

Aroop Mukharji is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He received his PhD from Harvard Kennedy School, where he is an associate in the Applied History Project.


Matthijs Tieleman, “Lessons from the 18th-century Dutch Republic”

The Foundation awards this essay a runner-up prize for its illuminating analysis of the similarities between the 18th century Dutch Republic and contemporary America, and although likely a longer-term remedy, its recommendation that “practically, citizens should be encouraged to envision themselves on a larger political canvass than just Democrat, Republican, or even independent.”

“The history of the Netherlands serves as both a warning and an opportunity for the United States in its current polarized state. The Dutch lesson is that there is a way to achieve reconciliation and deal with the divisions that naturally arise in any society: the embrace of political pluralism.”

Matthijs Tieleman is a historian and postdoctoral researcher at Arizona State University. He received his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles.

The Stanton Foundation would also like to recognize the submission it received from Katherine C. Epstein, “The Purple Pill: Charlottesville in Retrospect and Prospect.” While the essay does not identify a specific historical analogy, the Foundation agrees with the Selection Committee’s observation that “this piece offers a beautifully written meditation on the role of applied history and historians in healing the divisions between Americans.”