The Chautauqua Institution brings in two historical character-interpreters to perform a play and discuss colonial America. Jim Lehrer, veteran newsman and host of "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," moderates the discussion.
Bill Barker and Richard Josey are the two character-interpreters. Barker portrays former President Thomas Jefferson at Colonial Williamsburg; Josey plays the role of Jupiter, Jefferson's manservant.
Bill Barker has enjoyed portraying Thomas Jefferson in a variety of settings over the past twenty years. He first came to Williamsburg in the spring of 1993 to perform as Jefferson in a film made to honor Ambassador and Mrs. Walter H. Annenberg. He has continued to appear as Jefferson for Colonial Williamsburg, and assists in the development of Jefferson programs for the Foundation.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Bill's interest in Thomas Jefferson reaches back to his youth. He enjoys researching the American world Jefferson knew with an interest in the role the man played and continues to play in our American identity.
Bill received a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in history, from Villanova University and attended the University of Pennsylvania for a brief time.
Attracted to the stage at an early age he became a professional actor, director and producer. He was cast as Jefferson in many different venues including the musical, 1776. Bill is the same height, weight and general appearance as Mr. Jefferson.
Richard Josey is managing interpreter of historic events and interprets the character of Peter Southall and other characters for Colonial Williamsburg.
Since he wasn't a very good baseball player, he turned to sports writing, then writing in general. As a member of what he's called "the Hemingway generation," he decided to support himself as a newspaper writer until he could make a living as a novelist.
After graduating from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism, Lehrer served for three years in the U.S. Marine Corps, then began his career as a newspaper reporter, columnist and editor in Dallas. His first novel, about a band of Mexican soldiers re-taking the Alamo, was published in 1966 and made into a movie. Lehrer quit his newspaper job in order to write more books, but was lured back into reporting after he accepted a part-time consulting job at the Dallas public television station. He was eventually made host and editor of a nightly news program at the station.
Lehrer then moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as public affairs coordinator for PBS and as a correspondent for the National Public Affairs Center for Television (NPACT). At NPACT, Lehrer teamed up with Robert MacNeil to provide live coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings, broadcast on PBS. It was the beginning of a partnership that would last more than 20 years, as Lehrer and MacNeil co-hosted The MacNeil/Lehrer Report (originally The Robert MacNeil Report) from 1976 to 1983, and The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour from 1983 to 1995. In 1995, MacNeil left the show, but Lehrer soldiered on as solo anchor and executive editor of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
When he wasn't busy hosting the country's first hour-long news program, Lehrer wrote and published books, including a series of mystery novels featuring his fictional lieutenant governor, One-Eyed Mack, and a political satire, The Last Debate. Lehrer surprised critics and won new readers with his breakout success, White Widow, the "tender and tragic" (Washington Post) tale of a small-town Texas bus driver. He followed it with the bestselling Purple Dots, a "high-spirited Beltway romp" (The New York Times Book Review), and The Special Prisoner, about a WWII bomber pilot whose brutal experiences in a Japanese P.O.W. camp come back to haunt him 50 years later. His recent novel No Certain Rest recounts the quest of a U.S. Parks Department archaeologist to solve a murder committed during the Civil War.
Across this wide range of subjects, Lehrer is known for his careful plotting and even more careful research. Clearly, this is a man who cares about good stories -- but which is more important to him, journalism or fiction? Lehrer once admitted that he's known as "the TV guy who also writes books. Someday, maybe it will go the other way and I'll be the novelist who also does television."
(born April 13, 1743, Shadwell, Va.died July 4, 1826, Monticello, Va., U.S.) Third president of the U.S. (180109). He was a planter and became a lawyer in 1767. While a member of the House of Burgesses (176975), he initiated the Virginia Committee of Correspondence (1773) with Richard Henry Lee and Patrick Henry. In 1774 he wrote the influential A Summary View of the Rights of British America, stating that the British Parliament had no authority to legislate for the colonies. A delegate to the Second Continental Congress, he was appointed to the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence and became its primary author. He was elected governor of Virginia (177981) but was unable to organize effective opposition when British forces invaded the colony (178081). Criticized for his conduct, he retired, vowing to remain a private citizen. Again a member of the Continental Congress (178385), he drafted the first of the Northwest Ordinances for dividing and settling the Northwest Territory. In 1785 he succeeded Benjamin Franklin as U.S. minister to France. Appointed the first secretary of state (179093) by George Washington, he soon became embroiled in a bitter conflict with Alexander Hamilton over the country's foreign policy and their opposing interpretations of the Constitution. Their divisions gave rise to political factions and eventually to political parties. Jefferson served as vice president (17971801) under John Adams but opposed Adams's signing of the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798); the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, adopted by the legislatures of those states in 1798 and 1799 as a protest against the Acts, were written by Jefferson and James Madison. In the presidential election of 1800 Jefferson and Aaron Burr received the same number of votes in the electoral college; the decision was thrown to the U.S. House of Representatives, which chose Jefferson on the 36th ballot. As president, Jefferson attempted to reduce the powers of the embryonic federal government and to eliminate the national debt; he also dispensed with a great deal of the ceremony and formality that had attended the office of president to that time. In 1803 he oversaw the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the land area of the country, and he authorized the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In an effort to force Britain and France to cease their molestation of U.S. merchant ships during the Napoleonic Wars, he signed the Embargo Act. In 1809 he retired to his plantation, Monticello, where he pursued his interests in science, philosophy, and architecture. He served as president of the American Philosophical Society (17971815), and in 1819 he founded and designed the University of Virginia. In 1812, after a long estrangement, he and Adams were reconciled and began a lengthy correspondence that illuminated their opposing political philosophies. They died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Though a lifelong slaveholder, Jefferson was an anomaly among the Virginia planter class for his support of gradual emancipation. In January 2000 the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation accepted the conclusion, supported by DNA evidence, that Jefferson had fathered at least one child with Sally Hemings, one of his house slaves.