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Jefferson, Lincoln Top List of High School Heroes

Mt. Rushmore

Three out of four make the grade with high schoolers. Istockphoto.com hide caption

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Heroes are hard to come by these days, it seems.

In a survey of 3,000 essays submitted for a contest put on by the Bill of Rights Institute, Thomas Jefferson ranked first among "heroes, past and present." The third president was listed as a top hero in 18 percent of the essays. Abraham Lincoln came in a close second at 14 percent.

Others in the top five were Martin Luther King, Jr. (12 percent), George Washington (10 percent) and Thomas Paine (9 percent). President Barack Obama came in eighth, while Theodore Roosevelt and FDR were fourteenth and fifteenth, respectively.

Among 10th graders, Lincoln and Jefferson traded places.

The founding documents that inspired students the most were the Jefferson-authored Declaration of Independence (47 percent), the Constitution (33 percent) and Paine's call to arms, Common Sense.

The institute also noted that the "civic values" which appeared most often in the essays were perseverance, courage, equality and respect.

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