The Essay Contest was established in 1974 as the result of conversations between Admiral Jerauld Wright, U. S. Navy (Retired) and Mrs. Brooke Astor regarding the selection of a subject worthy of the ideals held by her late husband, Mr. Vincent Astor, when he had established, in 1948, the Vincent Astor Foundation.
Certainly it was no mere coincidence chat the perceptive views of Mrs. Astor were a warm reflection of the life-long professional concerns of Admiral Wright "to stimulate research, thinking, and writing in the broad field of leadership in the sea services." And it was entirely natural, too, that these two individuals perceived that an effort of such potential significance should be directed at the young members of the sea services who will become tomorrow's leader
It followed, too, that the U. S. Naval Institute, as the professional society of the sea services having as its then-motto "The advancement of professional, literary, and scientific knowledge in the naval and maritime services . . . " would be an appropriate instrument to administer the project within the naval and maritime community.
The first Leadership Essay Contest was held in 1975 and named the Vincent Astor Memorial Leadership Essay Contest. It provided immediate, convincing proof of the excellence and effectiveness of the concept, as the quality of the essays submitted bespoke an invaluable potential which had hitherto been uncapped. The results of the succeeding years have sustained that conviction that young service members, men and women, are availing themselves of this new and unusual opportunity to contribute to their chosen profession.
And while the ultimate impact of this fresh new source of professional thinking and writing is yet to be measured, there is already apparent the heartening evidence that succeeding generations of young officer leaders will benefit profoundly from the thinking and writing so well-evoked through the Leadership Essay Contest.