Since 1985, William Paterson has played host to the country’s leading Thomas Jefferson scholars, who have shared their research and scholarship with the campus community and high school students from throughout New Jersey in an annual lecture. This year, the University marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Abram Kartch/Thomas Jefferson Lecture on April 28 with a special program, “We Disagreed as Rational Friends: A Debate between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson,” to be held at 9:30 a.m. in Shea Center.
More than two hundred high school students are expected for the event, which will explore the trials and tribulations and the unique friendship of Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by Steven Edenbo, a Thomas Jefferson impersonator, historian, and motivational speaker, and John Adams, as interpreted by Peyton Dixon.
The series began when Abram Kartch, a retired Paterson businessman and a Thomas Jefferson scholar, provided the University with an endowment to offer an annual lecture for high school students on the relationship between Jefferson’s words and thoughts to modern society.
“Mr. Kartch wanted to stimulate interest in and appreciation of American history in the minds and hearts of youth,” says Lucia McMahon, associate professor of history and coordinator of the event. “As an integral part of this yearly program, he established an essay contest, with prizes for students who submit the best essays on themes developed by the guest lecturer. We strongly encourage all students to participate in the contest by writing an essay and submitting it within three weeks of the lecture.”
Among the scholars who have participated in the series are Henry Steele Commager, James B. Shenton, Jan Lewis and Pauline Maier. Kartch, who in later years resided in Wayne, died in 1997 at age ninety-three.