Jefferson & Jackson: Creation to Preservation of our Federal Union highlights the connections between the third and seventh presidents, from their political to their personal lives. The program includes a performance of Thomas Jefferson, portrayed by Kurt Smith, passing on his political torch to the next generation, followed by a panel featuring Thomas Cones, an editor from the Andrew Jackson Papers.
Join us for an engaging, educational and entertaining evening!
Kurt Benjamin Smith is one of two men in the world who make their living full-time by portraying Mr. Jefferson. He has portrayed Mr. Jefferson for U.S. Supreme Court Justices, The U.S. Congress, State Governors, State Supreme Court Chief Justices, Federal Cabinet Members, presidential candidates and royalty around the globe. He has been acclaimed in articles and media from The Washington Post to The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Kurt’s aim is to bring the humanity to Mr. Jefferson that can often be lost amongst the 50,000 Jefferson letters. History tends to either vilify or deify the men who helped found this country. Through careful scholarship and provocative theatre, Kurt’s job is to avoid both and present to you the humanity of the hopeful, flawed, passionate human named Thomas.
Thomas Coens graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in history. Awarded a Mellon Fellowship in 1998, he received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2004, writing a dissertation entitled “The Formation of the Jackson Party, 1822-1825.” He joined the Papers of Andrew Jackson as an editor and the University of Tennessee’s History Department in 2004. He has co-edited six volumes of Jackson’s presidential papers, starting with volume 7 (1829), published in 2007. Volume 12, covering 1834, was published in 2023.
Dr. Coens is broadly interested in American political, intellectual and social history. His essay, “The Jackson Political Party: A Force for Democratization?,” appeared in A Companion to the Era of Andrew Jackson (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013). He is currently writing a short history of Andrew Jackson and Indian Removal, as well as a history of nuclear fear in the early 1980s.