University Holds 30th Annual Abram Kartch/Thomas Jefferson Lecture

"Thomas Jefferson" and "John Adams" have a spirited debate as they visit the campus

Nearly two hundred high school students took a step into history and took sides as they listened to a debate between “Thomas Jefferson” and “John Adams” at the 30th annual Abram Kartch/Thomas Jefferson Lecture on April 28.

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’s Abram Kartch/Thomas Jefferson Lecture presented a special program, “We Disagreed as Rational Friends: A Debate Between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.”

Thomas Jefferson was portrayed by Steven Edenbo, a Thomas Jefferson impersonator, historian, and motivational speaker, and John Adams was interpreted by Peyton Dixon for the debate.

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. Kartch, who in later years resided in Wayne, died in 1997 at age ninety-three.

“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.”