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1997 Speaker - Mr. William D. Barker

portraying President Thomas Jefferson at Williamsburg, Virginia

The pre-eminent Thomas Jefferson impersonator in the nation, Mr. William Barker, a native Philadelphian who holds his B.A. in History from Villanova University, has been portraying the nation’s third President in sundry venues since 1984. In 1993, Barker began serving the Williamsburg Foundation as Colonial Williamsburg’s “character interpretation” of President Jefferson, while simultaneously assisting the foundation in the development of programs pertaining to the president, a position he holds to the present day.

As a professional actor, director, and producer, Barker has portrayed Jefferson as part of the American Historical Theater and in the musical 1776, as well as in programs aired on:

  • ABC
  • CBS
  • CNN
  • C-SPAN
  • The History Channel
  • PBS
  • NBC

The resemblance between Jefferson and Barker in height, weight, and overall appearance is striking, and Barker’s knowledge of the president and his times is vast, leading to national renown and invitations to perform throughout the United States, as well as in Great Britain and France. Barker has also been featured in his role as Jefferson in several well-known publications, including:

  • Atlantic
  • he Colonial Williamsburg Journal
  • People
  • Philadelphia
  • Reader’s Digest
  • Southern Living
  • TIME magazine

For his skilled depictions of President Jefferson, Barker has been granted keys to the cities of Philadelphia, New Orleans, and St. Louis.

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