Founding Father to 'speak' at Minnesota History Center this weekend


The man who played a major role in your home state joining the Union will be taking your questions in St. Paul on Saturday night.

Well, not really, but the next best thing – noted historian and Thomas Jefferson impersonator Clay Jenkinson – will be there in the late president's stead.

Hosting "A Conversation with Thomas Jefferson" is the Minnesota History Center in the capital city, where Jenkinson – dressed as the third U.S. commander-in-chief – will speak in-character on a number of topics, including current events and Jefferson's own era, according to the Minnesota Historical Society.

This "fascinating, funny, and historically accurate event," the society says, gives attendees the chance to "see and hear the living, breathing thoughts of President Thomas Jefferson."

The visit is also put on by WCCO Radio, whose host John Williams will interview "Mr. Jefferson" on the 3M auditorium stage, the station says. The event will also include a Q&A.

Not just an impersonator...

Professional presidential impersonators are nothing unique – heck, you can even hire them (a whole lot of them, from George Washington to Barack Obama) through this website – but Jenkinson brings unusual insight to his job.

He's the host of "The Thomas Jefferson Hour," a syndicated weekly radio program in which he discusses "important, and many times sensitive, topics to our country and to our citizens" in the voice and persona of Jefferson, the official website says.

The North Dakota native's bio describes him as a "nationally acclaimed humanities scholar," and notes that he was one of the first people to receive the Charles Frankel Prize – now known as the National Humanities Medal – from the National Endowment for the Humanities. It was presented by President George Bush in 1989.

And for the Land of 10,000 Lakes, this is no ordinary presidential visit. Jefferson, who famously wrote the Declaration of Independence, presided over the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, which included a huge chunk of what is now Minnesota. The $15 million deal doubled the size of the United States.

It's been called the "greatest real estate deal in history."

Two "conversations" are scheduled on Nov. 7, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; tickets cost $20 for non-Historical Society members, and $15 for members.

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