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James McFarland came to D.C. as an intern for one month and left as the Honorary Hill Historian. Except he didn’t know it until Roll Call rang him up at his university dorm.

The 24-year-old Tuscaloosa, Ala., native has recently been named by the U.S. Capitol Historical Society as an Honorary Hill Historian for his essay, “The Presidency of Thomas Woodrow Wilson: A Medical Perspective.”

“It was very well-written, very focused and very thoughtful,” chief historian Don Kennon said about the essay.

A summer intern for Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), McFarland, a junior who goes by Billy, has returned to his state to attend school at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa as a political science major. He is currently the youngest member of the Tuscaloosa County Republican Executive Committee and plans to run for a Republican National Convention delegate spot. After graduation he hopes to be active in Montgomery politics. “I really like state politics,” McFarland said.

Congressional contestants answered, in 500 words or less, the question: “What event related to the health of an American political leader has had the most significant impact on a group of people or the nation?”

The purpose of the contest was “to simply stimulate interest in history,” Kennon said. “And to let people know that [CHS] was holding a lecture series on the topic of the health of American political leadership and its impact on history.”

CHS officials declined to release the number of submissions received, but Kennon said “there was a good representation from the Hill staff and the general public.”

McFarland will receive a desk sculpture of the Capitol carved from marble removed from the House steps during the East Front expansion and a pocket Constitution. Staff members from his office will receive the CHS 2003 holiday ornament, which also includes marble from the House steps.

CHS simultaneously held an additional essay contest for the general public. The winner was Alex Snider with his essay “He Had a Dream,” regarding the effects of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

The contest winners were scheduled to be announced last Friday at the CHS 2003 Symposium at the Russell Senate Caucus Room. Due to Hurricane Isabel, the symposium was canceled but is rescheduled for Nov. 21.

CHS hopes to make the essay contest an annual event. For more information, visit

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