This 4th of July, you may see Thomas Jefferson chatting it up with fellow citizens

That “Thomas Jefferson” is actually Steve Edenbo — a man who has dedicated his professional career for more than 20 years to impersonating Jefferson and sharing the third president’s ideas and philosophies with the current generation.

“I am definitely working on the 4th!” he told Fox News Digital about this Independence Day weekend.

4TH OF JULY QUIZ! HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW INDEPENDENCE DAY?

Just ahead of the holiday, Fox News Digital spoke to Edenbo, who lives in Philadelphia (and yes, he’ll be quite busy this weekend) to ask him what it’s like to portray Jefferson as a character — and what the wisdom of our nation’s third president offers us today.

Fox News Digital: Tell us what you’re doing this 4th of July weekend?

Steve Edenbo: American Historical Theatre is again bringing the Founders to the U.S. National Archives for their public 4th of July festivities, which include a public reading ceremony on the Constitution Avenue side of the Archives. 

This is our first time back since COVID shut down all public performances in 2020, and we’re thrilled. It will be my 22nd Independence Day with the National Archives.

American Historical Theatre has been working with the Archives on this event since before I started in 1999 — but I’m not sure when that partnership started. At this point it’s at least a quarter-century.

Fox News Digital: Why did you choose this as a career?

Steve Edenbo: When I started doing this almost 23 years ago, I quickly found that I loved all the parts of it. This job is a mixture of study, scholarship, writing, teaching, acting, traveling — I love to travel! ­— and inspiring people, too. I fell in love with my work early on.

4TH OF JULY: WHAT IS IT AND WHY DO WE CELEBRATE WITH FIREWORKS?

When you take on these prominent figures, you must have some connection with them. You find parts of yourself within the characters, like actors do.

You’re also in constant conversation with that figure, which I have found to be stimulating, ever-challenging and sometimes frustrating. The further you get into the forest, the bigger the trees — it becomes more complicated. 

Our actual third president, Thomas Jefferson, in an official presidential portrait (by Rembrandt Peale, Dec. 31, 1799).

Our actual third president, Thomas Jefferson, in an official presidential portrait (by Rembrandt Peale, Dec. 31, 1799). (Public Domain)

Jefferson is in the middle of all the big issues [in our country] in a way that no other Founder is — and while that’s a challenge, it’s also what makes this work interesting and makes Jefferson, for better and for worse, still very relevant.

Fox News Digital: Tell us how you got your start in this work.

Edenbo: I attended Dickinson College [in Carlisle, Pennsylvania] as an English major and took some acting courses there. I moved to Philadelphia to pursue acting and got involved with Philadelphia’s American Historical Theatre. 

A key person there saw my physical resemblance to Jefferson — and then learned that I am an avid reader and writer. A “Jefferson” was needed for conferences and conventions. I fell in love with the whole thing.

I am now on the board of the American Historical Theatre, trying to give back — they gave me my start. We tell a wide array of stories of historical figures, and if you’re approaching history through every means available, this is yet another way in.

Fox News Digital: Give us an idea of the types of gigs you have.

Edenbo: All kinds, from leadership conferences for Fortune 500s to debating on stage.

I work with the FBI twice a year, which goes into my “most challenging” category. I started doing leadership conferences for them about five years ago, as well as seminars for police chiefs from around the country and the world. 

“If you tell 8th graders why they’re supposed to care — you lose them. You must figure out what matters to them; then you connect history to that.” 

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