Characters from before the 1700's

 Christopher Columbus PORTRAYED BY BOB GLEASON

Bob Gleason’s Christopher Columbus tells us we are all Explorers, so, “Adalante,” just keep going! Don’t be afraid to go out and look for new things, don’t just do what everybody else is doing or what everybody else tells you to do – if you have an idea, follow it, pursue it, test it. Take a chance!

Columbus went to sea, rather than go into the family business. He had adventures, he was shipwrecked, he survived. Portugal turned him down, Spain said they wouldn’t fund him, so Columbus was on his way to France for money. That’s when Spain agreed to finance Columbus. And the Explorer was on his way.

Not that life aboard ship was always exciting. Bob Gleason’s Columbus invites the audience into the world of the sailor, hauling up sails, scrubbing and polishing.  He urges us to fulfill our birthright as explorers, from the day we open our eyes and take a look around, but to also take care of daily life challenges.

Not just for Columbus Day anymore.

Invite Christopher Columbus to your event:

• Educational Programs: Programs for Schools, Libraries, Museums, Historical Sites • Parades: Participant • Parties: Mix & Mingle Entertaining Toasts, Relevant Quotes, Photo Ops for corporate, association and private social events • Pair with Charles Lindbergh (he went the opposite way), Amelia Earhart • Bob Gleason: Bio of Actor/Historian, Reenactor, or Impersonator

 Galileo Galilei Portrayed by Bob Gleason 

Bob Gleason’s Galileo Galilei tells us not to accept what has always been accepted, to test it.  And if you need something that you can’t find, create it yourself. He urges us to make each day a day to learn something new. Gleason’s Galileo also exhorts us to tell the truth, even if it gets you into hot water. We remember the people who tell the truth. Be part of that group.

Galileo’s father wanted him to become a doctor so he would make a good living, but with his natural aptitude for mathematics and science, Galileo found other ways to turn a profit. He advanced by improving previous inventions like the thermometer and by coming up with new inventions that he got important people to sponsor. But he also alienated important people by disproving accepted scientific theories and by challenging accepted religious doctrine. Galileo was willing to be punished for his break with science and church, but he recanted to spare his children. Later, Galileo was vindicated.

Galileo is frequently requested in Philadelphia, reflecting the city’s previous role as the center of science and education in the United States. Examples include Rittenhouse behind City Hall looking through a telescope and the Fels Planetarium.


William Penn is a Philadelphia treasure and Bob Gleason’s portrayal helps us realize that without Penn there would not be a town in which Benjamin Franklin is famous. Born an unusual fellow to well-connected British parents, Penn sat inside and read books. His was a very different lifestyle from his partying mother and his sea-faring admiral father. Traveling to Ireland and then to France, Penn hears a Quaker preach and, quite literally, a light went on for the young man. Less than pleased by their son’s new faith and advocacy, Penn refused to compromise his beliefs: he was willing to be disinherited, even to go to jail. After the Admiral’s death, Penn inherited land in what came to be known as “Pennsylvania,” traveling to his new property and dedicating his land and his life to the creation of a Utopia. And Penn advertised all over Europe for like-minded peace-seeking settlers willing to go to Pennsylvania as part of his Noble Experiment.

William Penn set the precedent for tolerance, equality, and for using financial resources to create true and lasting value. Penn codified his plans for the Pennsylvania Charter of Liberties, which presaged the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which is why the United Nations celebrates its anniversary on Penn’s birthday on October 14th.  Penn worked hard to create good relationships with Native Americans, learning their language(s) and sometimes paying for land several times to several tribes claiming “ownership.” Penn’s wife, Hannah Callowhill, was an able businessperson, who stepped in as unofficial Pennsylvania Governor from the time Penn suffered a stroke until Penn’s death.

Consider Bob Gleason’s William Penn for all Green events, for urban planning events (“greene country town”), for events whose goal is peace and harmony


The son of a British admiral, Penn founded Pennsylvania, seeking to use government to promote peaceful co-existence and religious freedom. During Penn’s time, as in our own, European nations were always fighting each other. Penn’s essay on the necessity of creating peace in Europe was a blueprint for the League of Nations, the United Nations and the European Union. With Quaker beliefs as the legal lynchpin, anyone, no matter their background or religious practices, was welcome to settle in Pennsylvania, even powerful women who may or may not have been witches.


William Penn is best known as the English-born Quaker who founded Pennsylvania.  What is less well known is that Penn was also a key figure in the histories of Delaware and New Jersey.  Born in 1644, Penn grew up in a time of great religious and political strife in England.  The state religion changed five times during his lifetime.  Penn’s father was an officer in the Royal Navy who rose from the rank of Lieutenant to General of The Sea by the time Penn was seven.  Penn’s mother was a Dutch Protestant who raised Penn in the Puritan faith.  When Penn was 12 years old he had a vision that God was in the room with him and he afterward said that a seal had been placed upon him, calling him to a holy life.

During his time at Oxford, Penn found himself drawn to a new movement within the Puritan faith.  This Religious Society of Friends spoke of an “inner light”- the same light that Penn had seen in his vision.   Penn soon joined these Friends or Quakers as they were called and began to preach.  Because Quaker teachings were contrary to the established state religion, Quakers were often persecuted- their meetings broken up and their members jailed.  Penn himself spent time in the infamous Tower of London for his teachings and writings.

By the 1670s Penn came to realize that he and others like him would never have freedom of conscience in England.  Indeed, Penn traveled throughout Europe and found that people everywhere were being persecuted for their religious beliefs.  He longed for a place where people would be free to worship as they choose.  The death of his father and the subsequent inheritance of a debt owed by the king gave him the opportunity to create just such a place.  In 1681 King Charles I granted William Penn the Provence of Pennsylvania.  Penn immediately began to make plans for a capital city upon the Delaware River.  Philadelphia would be his “holy experiment”; a place where people could worship based on the dictates of conscience, not on the religion of the king.

William Penn was, at points, a soldier, courtier, philosopher, preacher, and entrepreneur.  The colony he created out of the green Pennsylvania wilderness was unique in many of the liberties we take for granted today.  Religious tolerance, freedom from unjust imprisonment, and the right to trial by jury all were granted in Penn’s Charter of Privileges.  It is in part because of these freedoms that William Penn’s “green country towne” was chosen as the place where, a century later, the Founding Fathers would meet to debate the issues that would lead to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Characters from the 1700's


In her many letters to her husband and friends Abigail Adams expressed the concerns and accomplishments of an early American patriotic woman. Her most famous request was for Congress to “Remember the ladies” in the creation of the Constitution of the United States. It was her clear understanding that women’s influences in the domestic sphere were as integral to the development of a new nation as the the more public efforts of the founding fathers. Family economics, children’s education and civic responsibility, are the primary concerns of Abigail Adams. Her requests for legislation to benefit future generations included the necessity of education for all children regardless of sex or color, as well as the right to self-determination for all individuals including the emancipation of slaves and granting wives equal status under the law. An understanding of her hopes for posterity beg the question: If the founding fathers would have heeded Mrs. Adams advice sooner, would the nation would have been spared years of strife from civil war to civil rights? A conversation with “Dear Abigail”, 18th century wife and mother provides insight into the concerns of today’s Americans.

Ms. Hanley’s interactive school programs involve audience members who begin with large piles of money that grow smaller with each tax act that the British Parliament passes, illustrating the economic tyranny the colonials faced under British rule. Abigail contrasts this inequality with a look into an egalitarian marriage of two intelligent, articulate people who value themselves, each other and their relationship.

Invite Abigail Adams to your event: • Keynote Speaker: Women’s Issues, Patriotism, Education, and other topics on request • Educational Programs: Schools, Libraries, Museums, Historical Sites: Remember the Ladies, 40 minutes plus Q & A • Plays: First Ladies First with Dolley Madison, Martha Washington and Gilbert Stuart - 40 minutes + Q & A; John and Abigail Adams: Dearest Friends, 40 minutes + Q & A • Pair with Dolley Madison, Martha Washington, John Adams, and Eleanor Roosevelt • Kim Hanley: Bio of Actor/Historian, Reenactor, or Impersonator

“What a delighful way to spend an afternoon! The patrons were charmed with your excellent re-enactment of Abigail Adams and learned so much from your insights into this great lady’s life.” –Prince William Public Library, Virginia

“She kept the audience on their toes, and many said they wished she would speak forever…. We were all transported back in time as she made history come alive.” –Friends of the Stafford Library, Manahawkin, NJ

“You are the perfect Abigail Adams. You are gracious, witty, and very knowlegeable. Thank you for an absolutely wonderful evening.” B.D., Spring Lake Historical Society

VIEW photos of Abigail Adams, Martha Washington, and Dolley Madison at the National Portrait Gallery: Photos by Jeff Malet


John Adams, second President of these United States, was an imperfect, burdened, yet ever-striving man. In him we recognize the desire to be something more, the concerns about what others might see in us, the struggle for balance between our personal opinions and our public persona. Throughout his life, Adams faced many challenging situations, but perhaps what is even more impressive than how he tackled these issues, or his list of accomplishments, is his humanity. While he did not necessarily believe in the innate goodness inside man, he did something remarkable, though sometimes unintentional–he strove for goodness.

John Adams Portrayed by Joe Doyle

John Adams was pivotal to the American Cause. His sharp legal mind enabled him to frame key precepts for the emerging United States, but Adams was shrewd enough to recommend that Thomas Jefferson write the Declaration of Independence in order to secure southern support. Adams wrote the Massachusetts Constitution, which served as the highly-original model for the United States Constitution, in that the Massachusetts document called for three equal branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial.

Mr. Adams devoted his outstanding legal talents to the cause of freedom and liberty. His bulldog tenacity and political acumen served him well as Washington’s Vice President, as the U.S. Surgeon General and as the second President of the United States. Adams encouraged an end to slavery and promoted education for both men and women.

Invite Joe Doyle as John Adams to your event:

Educational Programs: Programs for Schools, Libraries, Museums, Historical Sites • Keynote Speaker: on leadership, panel member on rights and responsibility • Parades: Participant • Plays: The Handoff with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Oliver Ellsworth, Ol’ Patty, 50 minutes plus Q & A • Pair with Abigail Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson • Joe Doyle: Bio of Actor/Historian, Reen

John Bartram Portrayed by Bob Gleason

Through Bob Gleason’s characterization of John Bartram, we learn to go further, to find out about life, to contribute, to have a purpose, and to respect life’s little miracles. As one of those constantly curious fellows who can’t wait to go into the woods and discover something new and to figure out where it came from and what it’s good for, Gleason’s Bartram inspires us to be active Life Participants. Bartram observed how creatures adapted to their environment and his work influenced that environment, even to affecting the British royal succession: When Bartram sent seedlings to the Prince of Wales, the Royal insisted on being present when they were being planted – during rain – and he died. The Prince’s successor was George III. Again, every action has the potential for far-reaching consequences.

An early advocate of ecology and the importance of living in harmony with nature, Bob Gleason’s John Bartram is perfect for Arbor Day, for Green events, for events with the Audobon Society or Philosophical Society, and for events at Bartram’s Garden.

Invite John Bartram to your event:

• Educational Programs: Programs for Schools, Libraries, Museums, Historical Sites • Parties: Mix & Mingle, Entertaining Toasts, Relevant Quotes, Photo Ops for corporate, association and private social events • Pair with William Penn, Benjamin Franklin, Charles Willson Peale, Green characters • Bob Gleason: Bio of Actor/Historian, Reenac

James Wilson Portrayed by Bob Gleason

Bob Gleason’s James Wilson is a man deemed the most under-rated Founding Father by American Heritage Magazine, a man long overdue for a come-back, and an example of what this country was about. Gleason invites you to learn about a man who came to America with nothing, a man who became a Supreme Court Justice by dint of his hard work. Gleason insists that you discover the real James Wilson, who is nothing like the weak-kneed toady made famous in the musical 1776. Instead, Gleason shows us a man of impressive intellect who lobbied for the Constitution after it was adopted, but opposed the Bill of Rights because he considered these Rights already included in the Constitution.


Born free in Philadelphia, James Forten began working at seven years old following the passing of his father. He attended the African School, run by Quaker abolitionist Anthony Benezet until he was nine. At 14, Forten was serving on a privateer ship during the Revolutionary War. The ship was captured by the British, but as a result of a bond of friendship he had formed, he was held a prisoner, not sold into slavery, until his release 7 months later. At which time he walked from Brooklyn to Philadelphia to rejoin his family.

He apprenticed as a sail-maker, became foreman, and eventually bought the sail loft itself, and set about turning the business into one of the most successful of its kind in Philadelphia, thus making himself one of the city’s wealthiest citizens. Forten used his wealth and influence to support many causes, particularly the abolition of slavery. Toward this goal he signed a petition calling for the abolition of the slave trade and modification of the Fugitive Slave Law. With Reverend Richard Allen, he worked to establish the first Convention of Color in 1817. In 1833, Forten helped form and finance the American Anti-Slavery Society. He wrote many pamphlets as “a Man of Color” as well as contributing as a writer and supporter of TheLiberator, an abolitionist newspaper. He continued his efforts for equal civil rights until his passing at 75 years of age.


Benjamin Franklin was a true American success story, and he has been called “The First American” by many scholars. Born the 15th of 17 children, he found ways to overcome his humble status, while never apologizing for his beginnings. This tamer of electricity inspired the Declaration of Independence, served as ambassador to the French court of Louis XVI and raised the money to implement American independence. After the Revolution was won, Franklin served as delegate to the Constitutional Convention and signed the Constitution. Besides inventing the Franklin stove, bifocals, and the glass armonica, Franklin’s concern for the public welfare led him to devise the lightning rod and to found the first insurance company, fire fighting company and lending library, among many other public institutions.

Tapping his own natural wit and charm, William Ochester’s Benjamin Franklin puts his audience at ease.  Bill shares Dr. Franklin’s natural curiosity and exploring spirit, especially in the field of medicine.  Bill places a high value upon the authenticity of his characterization of Dr. Franklin.  His clothing and manner are remarkably close to those of the Old Gentleman, and he delights in using numerous props to bring Dr. Franklin alive in his presentations.  Bill’s spectacles are original (circa 1750), and he will proudly show the “actual key” from the Lightning Experiment, his Poor Richard’s Almanac, and original currency and newspapers of the colonial era.

Having been a man of insatiable curiosity and interests, Benjamin Franklin’s presence would be appropriate for all manner of events and gatherings.  Affairs involving the Masons, libraries, the Fire Department, school programs and the like are natural venues for Dr. Franklin to be invited to.  Guests visiting Philadelphia are delighted to spend time with Dr. Franklin in meet-and-greet situations, and he would be delighted to appear with Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams or other Founding Fathers, for presentations about the Declaration, the Constitution, and other notable moments of the 18th Century.

Invite Benjamin Franklin to your event:

• Keynote Speaker: Health & Happiness, Finances, Spirit of Invention • Parties: Mix & Mingle • Educational Programs: Program with Press Conference for Schools, Libraries, Museums and Historical Sites • Pair with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, General von Steuben, Betsy Ross, artistic & intelligent women • William Ochester: Bio of Actor/Historian, Reenactor,

benjamin franklin

Portrayed by Bill Robling

Ben Franklin, 15th of 17 children, maximized every opportunity presented to him and then he broke new ground. Pooling resources, Franklin initiated the first subscription library in the nation; gathering the leading thinkers of the day, Franklin promoted the exploration of science and humanities through scholarly research, helping to found the Philosophical Society; recognizing the need for better treatment of the sick, Franklin helped found Pennsylvania Hospital. He organized the first fire company in Philadelphia, as well as the first insurance company. Going against popular belief that fire was God’s judgment against a corrupt society, Franklin invented the lightning rod to prevent fires. Politically, his keen mind resulted in his representing several colonies in England. Returning home, Franklin was a member of the Committee of Five, drafting the Declaration of Independence. As ambassador to France, the now single Franklin was the center of attention and the successful fundraiser for the Colonial Cause. A delegate to the Constitutional Convention, Franklin continued to exert his powerful influence, and as President of Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery, Franklin spoke out against slavery. As Franklin said, “Well done is better than well said.”

Invite Benjamin Franklin to your event:

• Keynote Speaker: Health & Happiness, Spirit of Invention • Parties: Mix & Mingle • Educational Programs: Program with Q & A for Schools, Libraries, Museums and Historical Sites • Pair with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, General von Steuben, Betsy Ross, artistic & intelligent women • Bill Robling: Bio of Actor/Historian or Interpretor, Reenactor or Impersonator


Confidante and Chief of Staff to George Washington, astute lawyer and co-author of the Federalist Papers, first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton was a self-made man who identified as a soldier and preferred to be addressed by his military rank. There may be no documentation for Hamilton studying the sword, but we can be sure he learned to load and fire a musket in St. Croix, where he was born, as well as marching and drilling. Training to be an artillery officer, Hamilton pays for the privilege and becomes Captain of New York’s artillery during the Revolutionary War. Hamilton called for the creation of the Coast Guard, was active in the New York Society for the Manumission of Slavery, and established a firm fiscal foundation for our fledgling country.

Invite Alexander Hamilton to events for military, legal, financial and civil rights organizations:

• Educational Programs: for Schools, Libraries, Museums and Historical Sites: The Constitution Experience pairs Thomas Jefferson with Alexander Hamilton and dramatizes the conflicting ideas espoused by the two men-a 30-40 minute program plus Q & A; and Educational Seminars: Teachers’ professional improvement workshops • Keynote Speaker/Panelist: Leadership, Self-made Person, Building Consensus, the Art of the Deal • Parades: Participant • Parties: Meet & Greet, Mix & Mingle, Propose Toasts, Pose for Photo Ops • Pair with Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, James Madison, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, Ben Franklin, John Adams, Abigail Adams, George Washington.

John Hancock Portrayed by Christopher Whelan

Born in Braintree Massachusetts, John Hancock, President of the 2nd and 3rd Continental Congresses was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. He was a protégé of Samuel Adams, and popular Bostonian, in part due to the support he garnered after his sloop, The Liberty, was seized by the British. Charges of smuggling were brought and then dropped, but the label of smuggler was never fully shaken. Hancock inherited his uncle’s booming merchant trade and became one of the wealthiest men in the colonies. He read law at Harvard, and used his wealth, skill, and popularity to great effect in support of the struggle for Independency. Post war, he used these qualities and the force of his new position as, first and third, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to achieve Massachusetts’s ratification of the Constitution

Invite John Hancock to mercantile, legal, insurance and philanthropic organization events.

Pair with Ben Franklin, John Adams, Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Forten, Thomas Paine

• Educational Programs: Programs for Schools, Libraries, Museums, Historical Sites • Keynote Speaker/Panel Participant: Individual or panel participants speaking on topics such as Leadership, Teambuilding, Negotiation


For more information, contact American Historical Theatre at 215-625-0986.


Bob Gleason’s Patrick Henry teaches us that you can be poor, you can grow up in the backwoods with a limited education, and you can fail more than once, yet you can still ultimately succeed. Mr. Henry kept trying. Early on he got married and had a store, but it failed. His first wife was brought low by the depression that followed her bearing their 6th child. Rather than committing her, Henry kept her in the basement. After his first wife’s death, Henry remarried and fathered 11 children. He had a farm, but he managed to burn it down. This self-taught musician then became a self-taught lawyer. He won an important case when local parsons were paid in cash instead of tobacco. He argued the case and won, gaining a reputation as a skillful lawyer.

For this passionate orator, best known for his, “Give me Liberty or give me Death!” it was all about freedom.  He was against a federal government, he was against the Constitution, but he was vehemently in favor of what would become the Bill of Rights.

Invite Patrick Henry to your event:

• Educational Programs: Program with Press Conference for schools, museums, libraries and historical sites • Parties: Mix & Mingle, Entertaining Toasts, Relevant Quotes, Photo Ops for corporate, association and private social events • Pair with Abraham Lincoln, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson • Bob Gleason: Bio of Actor/Historian, Reenactor, or Impersonator


Patrick Henry teaches us that one can be poor, grow up in the backwoods with a limited education, fail multiple times, and yet ultimately succeed. Mr. Henry married at a young age and owned and operated a store, which failed. His first wife was brought low by the depression that followed the bearing of their 6th child. Rather than having her committed, Henry kept her in the basement. After her passing, He remarried and fathered 11 children. He had a farm, but he managed to burn it down. This self-taught musician then became a self-taught lawyer. He gained a reputation as a skillful lawyer when he argued a case which resulted in local parsons being paid in cash instead of tobacco.

A passionate orator, he is best known for his, “Give me Liberty or give me Death!” speech. He was opposed the formation of a federal government, and the Constitution, but he was vehemently in favor of what would become the Bill of Rights.


Considered something of a dandy, Hercules was chef to George Washington at Mount Vernon, as well as in New York and in Philadelphia. His reputation for culinary excellence was known throughout the colonies. His inestimable talents led him to be a favorite of the Washingtons and as such he enjoyed privileges withheld from other slaves. Allowed to keep profits from the sale of left-over food, he was able to dress extravagantly for his station and walked around freely with his gold-handled cane. Hercules fulfilled his duties with grace and efficiency until one day he disappeared from the Washington’s service, never to be heard from again. Once master of the kitchen, he now was master of his own destiny!

Invite Hercules to your event: • Educational Programs: Hercules – General of George Washington’s Kitchen for Schools, Libraries, Museums and Historic Sites • Pair with Oney Judge, George Washington, Martha Washington • Keith Henley: Bio of Actor/Historian


General William Howe challenges us to understand the other side of the Revolutionary War.  A relative of Great Britain’s King George III, William Howe was sent to end the colonial rebellion quickly and at a minimal cost. England had already spent vast sums of money to develop their colonies’ raw materials and to protect her lands from the French and Indians. Howe was to protect this substantial British investment.

William Howe told King George he did not think this war could be won. Howe knew how vast the territory was and he knew how difficult it would be to get reinforcements. Howe would not only be fighting George Washington, he would be fighting all of America and its geography: the land was not flat, there were woods rather than roads, and there was not merely one capital to capture but there were thirteen. In Europe, the British could replace fallen soldiers and gain new supplies. In America, the British were 3000 miles from new men and new resources. To make matters worse, Americans could run away faster than the British could drag their equipment behind them.

William Howe was a practical man who didn’t want to take on a war he couldn’t win. And he was a compassionate leader who didn’t want to win battles with high British casualties. By Philadelphia, Howe realized he would have to capture every capital of every colony. A show of force wouldn’t be enough, so he requested 100,000 additional troops. Howe’s timing could not have been worse – France had joined the fray and Britain was now engaged in a world war. George III could not spare the troops.

Learn more about the other side of the Revolutionary War. Invite William Howe to your event:

• Educational Programs: Program with Press Conference for schools, museums, libraries and historical sites • Parties: Visually-recognizable historical characters to Meet & Greet, Mix & Mingle, Propose Toasts, Pose for Photo Ops • Plays: A Most Unusual Dinner with George Washington, William Howe and Mrs. Rawlings; 50 minutes plus Q & A • Pair with George Washington (Battle of Germantown) • Bob Gleason: Bio of Actor/Historian, Reenactor, or Impersonator

“His knowledge of the time period and his portrayal of General Howe was exceptional–not just in his words but mannerisms and witty interactions”— BK, Paoli Battlefield Preservation Fund


Thomas Jefferson is an American titan who led by charisma and conversation, rather than by coercion. As president, his dinners were personal and intimate, with cuisine created by an internationally-known French chef, after which wine was served and the discussion was then turned to the political. The first United States Secretary of State, the second Vice President, the third President, Jefferson considered these roles as burdens placed upon him. Jefferson was most proud of penning the Declaration of Independence, fathering the University of Virginia, and shepherding the Statute of Religious Freedom: Jefferson considered these achievements his gifts to America.

Steve Edenbo offers his audience Thomas Jefferson’s gifts with eloquence. Mr. Edenbo shares Jefferson’s love of reading, writing, and good wine, as well as a love of the outdoors and the need to balance intimate friendships with solitude. Edenbo’s program, created for Independence National Historical Parks, A Wolf by the Ear, clarifies Jefferson’s feelings about slavery, “We have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.” Edenbo’s school programs confront and engage his audience, bringing middle school students onstage to interact with 18th century toys that embody Jeffersonian concepts. And Mr. Edenbo’s educational seminars and keynote speeches inform as well as inspire.

Invite Steve Edenbo’s Thomas Jefferson to gatherings of the American Philosophical Society, lawyers, businesses, students from middle school through college, and teachers’ professional improvement seminars:

• Keynote Speaker: Individual or panel participants speaking on topics such as Leadership, Teambuilding, Negotiation • Educational Programs for Schools, Libraries, Museums and Historical Sites: A Wolf by the Ear, 30-40 minutes plus Q & A: The Constitution Experience, with Alexander Hamilton, 30-40 minutes plus Q & A; and Educational Seminars: Teachers’ professional improvement workshops • Plays: Original works created and produced by AHT: The Handoff, with George Washington, John Adams, Oliver Ellsworth, Freewoman Ol’ Pattie: 45 minutes plus Q & A and The Constitution: Behind Closed Doors with George Washington and James Madison: 45 minutes plus Q & A • Parties: Meet & Greet, Mix & Mingle, Propose Toasts, Pose for Photo Ops • Parades: Participant • Pair with Dolley Madision, George Washington, Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Abigail Adams, Merriwether Lewis, John Marshall.


Lafayette came from an extremely prominent family in France. He traveled to the United States in search of adventure and prestige; Lafayette’s youthful idealism and courage brought him to a session of Congress in Philadelphia.  When Lafayette offered to pay his own expenses in the colonial fight for independence, Congress appointed him a major-general.  The next day, Lafayette met General George Washington and this was the start of a lifelong father-son relationship between the two men. At the Battle of Brandywine, Lafayette’s first battle, the young soldier sustained a leg wound that took more than 2 months to heal. But he served gallantly and with courage, inspiring others.

Young Lafayette was a skilled soldier, an impassioned speaker, an influential motivator, a committed diplomat, a Mason. Ben’s resemblance to Lafayette, his excellent French vocabulary and accent, as well as his quick mind all combine for a dramatic, authentic portrayal of the passionate patriot.

Invite the Marquis de Lafayette to international events, at father-son gatherings, at Revolutionary War battle re-enactments, in parades, and at Masonic programs:

• Educational Programs: Programs for Schools, Libraries, Museums, Historical Sites • Keynote Speaker: Individual or panel participants speaking on topics such as Leadership, Teambuilding, Negotiation • Parades: Participant • Parties: Meet & Greet, Mix & Mingle, Propose Toasts, Pose for Photo Ops • Ben Goldman: Bio of Actor/Historian, Reenactor, or Imperson

Dolley Madison Portrayed by Elizabeth Michaels

Dolley Madison was born into a wealthy Quaker family who moved to Philadelphia to allow their daughter to be educated, perhaps at the Pine Street Meetinghouse. Dolley made great use of this education when President Thomas Jefferson, a widower, tapped her to fill the important, if unofficial, role of White House First Lady. A natural hostess, Dolley was able to converse and entertain guests from the United States and Europe at White House events. She was particularly adept at pairing the most unlikely people and sparking discussion. Dolley reprised this key role when her second husband, James Madison, became President. Her famous turban and feather acted as a lightning rod, enabling her 5’6” husband to find her in a crowd so they could compare notes and perspectives gleaned from their important guests.

Dolley’s ability to create rapport with her guests made her one of the most sought-after women of her time. Her wit, charm, education and popularity made her a trend-setter. She experimented with fashion, introduced ice cream to the United States, and hosted children’s events, introducing the Easter Egg Roll at the White House.


In May 1787, delegates from each state came together at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Initially they intended to work out issues under the Articles of Confederation. Representative James Madison, at only 36 years of age, put forward his ideas for an effective government system in his “Virginia Plan”. In it he detailed a government with three branches: legislative, executive and judicial, each with checks and balances over the others so no branch had greater power over the other. Out of this plan and the discussions that ensued came The Constitution of the United States. Madison stated the Constitution was not “the off-spring of a single brain,” but instead, “the work of many heads and many hangs.”

With his charming wife Dolley by his side, James Madison would serve 2 terms as the 4th President of the United States.

Meet the Father of the Constitution and explore the process by which the enduring government of “We the People…” began. A conversation with James Madison is an opportunity like no other to understand how our Nation’s founding principles took shape.


Bob Gleason introduces us to Thomas Paine, the mouthpiece of the Revolution. A firebrand who traveled the world to speak out against injustice, Paine wrote in Common Sense that “These are the times that try men’s souls.” His words inspired a tired and disheartened Colonial army of 4500 to continue fighting against a British army that numbered 30,000. This radical’s writings, include The Rights of Man, a work urging political rights for all men because of their innate equality, and The Age of Reason, a deist manifesto. The impassioned author championed the causes of the individual and of the mind, but his works made their author little money.

Outspoken, controversial, articulate and committed to social equality, Bob Gleason’s Thomas Paine is certain to spark discussion and evoke spirited discussion.

Charles Wilson Peale Portrayed by Bob Gleason

Like AHT’s Bob Gleason, the artist Charles Willson Peale is fascinated by everyone and everything in the world around him, and they both enjoy collecting. Gleason’s Peale exemplifies the successful activist, someone who sets their mind to something and achieves that goal. Although apprenticed as a saddlemaker, Peale had a broken watch that he was able to fix, so he put out a shingle as a saddlemaker and a watch-repairer. Peale saw oil paintings, bought materials and taught himself to paint before traveling to Europe to study with Benjamin West. It was said that Peale painted people as they ought to be, portraying Revolutionary War heroes as heroes.

Peale had an organized mind and he knew everyone. After the Revolution, Peale was given the task of putting Philadelphia Tories out of their homes in order for Patriots to take possession, only to be attacked by mobs after the British occupation ended. This led to depression, but it didn’t stop him. Peale died carrying his luggage in the snow, returning from a trip courting his 4th wife.

Bob Gleason’s Charles Willson Peale is perfect for gatherings of artists, collectors, veterans, members of the Society of the Cincinnati  and events sponsored by museums.


Mary Ludwig Hays was a true war hero. She valiantly strove beyond her traditional role of cleaning the soldiers’ campsite and carrying pitchers of cold water to cool both men and canon during the Battle of Monmouth. When she witnessed her husband wounded too severely to fulfill his post at a cannon, Mary took his place, standing with the artillerymen throughout the rest of the fight. George Washington personally commended Mary for her competence and valor, awarding her an honorary rank of Sergeant.

“While in the act of reaching for a cartridge, a cannon shot from the enemy passed directly between her legs without doing any other damage than carrying away the lower part of her petticoat. Looking at it with apparent unconcern, she observed that it was lucky it did not pass a little higher, for in that case it might have carried away something else.” – Joseph Plumb Martin, eyewitness to Molly Pitcher’s heroism at the Battle of Monmouth.

In this presentation, attendees will hear about the life of a woman who had no choice but to travel with her husband and brave the terrors of battle by his side. Young visitors will learn how to work together by loading a “canon” made from ordinary (non threatening) 18th century household items. they will learn some of the drum cadences that Mary had to learn as she was trained to carry water to the battlefield. And, because life was not always full of hardship, they will engage in some of the lighter events in Mary’s life such as dancing and singing.

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Elizabeth (Eliza) Willing Powel portrayed by Jennifer Summerfield

“Elizabeth Willing Powel was an important figure during the Revolutionary Era, a woman involved in the social and political maneuverings of the period. She was known as the premiere Saloniste of Philadelphia, in charge of a location where elite men and women in the late colonial and early national era spent their evenings. Among them, George Washington, became a close personal friend of Powel's, often asking for her advice about his political career and personal life.” (Description from George Washington’s Mount Vernon)

In 2015, with a grant from the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, Ms. Summerfield was selected by American Historical Theatre to study with the curators and collection at the Philadelphia Landmarks’ Powel House; the home of Philadelphia’s Revolutionary era Mayor Samuel Powel and his wife Elizabeth Willing Powel. Mrs. Powel was Philadelphia’s most renowned hostess and her Salon engaged the likes of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and her very dear friends, George and Martha Washington.


"Thank you once more for your superb portrayal of David Rittenhouse at the Whitman Expo last Friday. You were facing a tough audience of people who know a lot about the first Mint and its first leader, and you wowed them all. Not only did you keep the arcane facts straight, you kept consistently in character and injected a lot of leavening humor into the bargain. For that hour, you were David Rittenhouse, and I, for one, will always, think of your performance whenever I remember him." -D.C. Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo


Elizabeth Griscomb Ross Ashburn Claypoole’s story differs from, and is superior to, the myths that enshroud her true legacy. Hers is the story of a strong and independent woman who was willing to work hard and follow her own mind and heart at a time when women were expected to conform to tradition. When she was 14 she began an apprenticeship in the upholsterers’ trade. At the age of 21 she married against her Father’s wishes and outside of her faith, resulting in her being “read out of meeting”, and losing the support of her Quaker meeting house. Her husband died in January, 1776, as the movement for independence was gaining intensity. She struggled to maintain her business and patriotic beliefs during the British occupation of Philadelphia (1777-78). It is in the hearts of the middle class people such as Betsy Ross that this country was conceived, and on their hard working backs that America thrived as a new Nation.

As one of the most iconic figures of American Independence, we think of Betsy Ross sitting in her quaint colonial room, dutifully sewing the first Stars and Stripes. While historians doubt the validity of her descendant’s claim that Betsy made the very first emblem of our nation, they do agree on the less glamorous, yet more substantial facts of her real life. Unfortunately the history of women’s work was not well documented and the world may never know who actually sewed the first American Flag. Betsy Ross never made that claim for herself. We do know, however, that she lived a fascinating and inspiring life during difficult times.

In this presentation attendees will meet the lady behind the myths. They will also learn the history of the Flag as Betsy builds it up from its historical components. They will also learn her “famous” trick of cutting a five pointed star with one snip of the scissors. Young visitors will be “trained” as apprentices in Betsy’s shop.


Bob Gleason’s Benjamin Rush shows us a man who was really curious about what made things work. More than that, he was an extremely caring and conscientious man who wanted to make things work better. Besides being the first professor of chemistry in America and having an active medical practice, Rush was an ardent abolitionist. He published his anti-slavery views, helped organize the first anti-slavery society in America, and became the society’s first president. Later, Rush would also champion the cause of women’s education.

Rush urged Thomas Paine to write a pro-independence pamphlet using simple language that the common person could understand and even gave Paine the title for his tract: Common Sense. As Surgeon General for the Revolutionary Army, Rush was called on to treat wounded soldiers without having adequate supplies, and was forced to find solutions quickly and under extreme circumstances. Never one to run away from difficult situations, Rush stayed in Philadelphia during the Yellow Fever epidemic, caring for the poor, tending the sick. Benjamin Rush instituted many reforms in the care of the mentally ill while serving as senior physician at Pennsylvania Hospital and became known as the Father of Psychiatry.

Annis Boudinot Stockton

Annis Boudinot Stockton was the wife of Richard Stockton, signer of the Declaration and later president of Princeton College, and she was the sister of Elias Boudinot, active participant in the Revolutionary War, who served in the Continental Congress. Annis’ home in Princeton, New Jersey was a center for political discussion, as well as a gathering place for artists. Annis set an example of an educated woman of her time, distinguishing herself as one of the first published American women poets. Her poems about George Washington were very popular with the General and with the General’s adoring public.


Bob Gleason’s Gilbert Stuart is a portrayal of a prickly, opinionated artist who brooked no interference and frequently insulted people. Stuart might even keep the picture of you he had painted (and for which you had paid him) if he didn’t like you. Or, like the Henry Knox portrait, hang the painting as a gate in his barnyard! Stuart was naturally talented, but since he didn’t have to work hard at it, he didn’t appreciate what he had. Stuart had a keen eye for physical details that conveyed human character and Stuart would rather be right than be popular.

But Stuart was popular, becoming the foremost portraitist of his time. And he is just as popular now, having painted the George Washington portrait on the United States dollar bill. So, if you wanted to be painted by the artist who painted the definitive George Washington (Lansdowne Portrait), then Gilbert Stuart was your guy! Invite Gilbert Stuart for gatherings of artists, for events concerning George Washington or Dolley Madison, for groups learning about commitment to artistic integrity


Frederick von Steuben, a Prussian-born aristocrat, was between wars in Europe, so he was willing to come to America, a situation where his skills could be put to good use. The aging (for a soldier) professional needed to distinguish himself, to make a splash, to earn a good pension. Benjamin Franklin beefed up von Steuben’s resume and wrote him a recommendation that the Baron took to George Washington.

Hired by Washington to coordinate his troops, von Steuben found the American military organization very different from European armies. In Germany, you gave an order and it was obeyed. In America, you gave an order and your soldiers wanted to know why you gave that order, so you explained and then the order was obeyed. In Germany you had one soldiering style, while in America each colony had a different style. Undaunted, von Stueben cared about his soldiers, cared about this opportunity to contribute to something real.

George Washington Portrayed by John Lopes

Without George Washington, America might have had a Napoleon to lead her troops and then her government. But the General, and future First President, remained faithful to the principles for which he and his country had fought. Leading by example, Washington resigned his commission as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army and then declined a possible third term as President. His well-earned retirement to his beloved Mount Vernon lasted less than 3 years, but he and Martha enjoyed living beneath “fig and vine” together until his death in 1799.

Raised on a dairy farm, John Lopes can appreciate the connection George Washington felt for his land. And trained to ride, dance and elegantly cross swords, Mr. Lopes skillfully conveys Washington’s talents as a soldier, a leader, and a Virginia gentleman. Standing well above 6’, John Lopes portrays George Washington as an impressive, thoughtful, man of action.

“May it please your Excellency to know how very delighted we are to have had the honor of your presence and those in your entourage. The event was so very insightful due to the eloquent parlance you all shared with our patronage.” -- J.T., Monmouth County Library

A commercial for the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
From General George Washington (John Lopes) mustered a new group of recruits in the Continental Army at the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Philadelphia Expo today. The young troops learned commands used in Washington's time, fired a volley on their muskets, then marched from the front of the Bourse to Kids Korner.
David Eisner, National Constitution Center President and CEO welcoming acclaimed George Washington / John Lopes, interpreter . George Washington's return to Philadelphia at a press preview of Discover the Real George Washington. DroidX video by Rikard Larma

Martha Washington Portrayed by Carol Spacht

Martha Washington's remarkable, and mostly untold, story helps audiences to understand the unique role women played in the building of our nation. Martha Washington was instrumental throughout the revolutionary war. Joining her husband at his winter encampments, she provided stockings and other necessaries to the soldiers at Valley Forge and elsewhere. Her most valuable contributions were, undoubtedly, those of her kind ministrations to the soldier’s morale. As a first lady, though she felt imprisoned by the role and longed always for the sweet country life at Mount Vernon, she never showed it, and was “determined to be cheerful despite [her] circumstances”, which on many occasions took a stalwart resolve.

Martha Washington Portrayed by Pat Jordan

Although Martha Washington was never considered a beauty, the diminutive “Lady Washington” was known for her deep compassion and for her ability to listen and converse with interest and intelligence with people from all walks of life and in all social circumstances. Martha could dance a lively jig and enjoyed a rollicking reel. She ran Mount Vernon while “The General” was busy fighting the Revolution. And nothing delighted her more than the sound of children’s laughter, although her four children all died by age 27. This “most agreeable consort” partnered our First President, traveling great distances to be by his side to inspire her husband and the troops. And she bore great hardships apart from her husband, including long absences during the years of his Presidency. Martha compared her life with George to “two coals glowing in the fire.”

“Pat’s portrayal of Martha Washington was exceptional. She was as gracious as Mrs. Washington was known to be.” – B.M., Independence National Historical Park

“No grander day could have been had to commemorate Monmouth County’s historic event. The event was so very insightful due to the eloquent parlance you all shared with our patronage.” – J.T., Monmouth County Library Headquarters–

Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, and Dolley Madison at the National Portrait Gallery: Photos by Jeff Malet

william livingston Performed by Bob Gleason

Born in New York (1723) Livingston, a graduate of Yale, went into law, but after years in New York politics, he and his family moved to Elizabethtown where they built an estate (Liberty Hall). Returned to politics by the Revolutionary War, he was a member of the first and second Continental Congresses. In 1776, he left Congress to command the New Jersey militia, and later that year he was elected the first governor of our state. Livingston spurred New Jersey’s rapid ratification of the Constitution, conducted agricultural experiments, and was also active in the anti-slavery movement.

Phillis Wheatley Portrayed by Daisy Century

The first published African-American poet and the first African-American female published writer, Phillis Wheatley’s life began in West Africa. Taken from her home on a slave ship when she was only 7, she was bought by the affluent and well-connected Wheatley family of Boston. The young girl looked so pitiful and so sickly and was “uncommonly intelligent,” so Mrs. Wheatley educated Phillis and had her work inside the house. She was further separated from other slaves because the Wheatleys didn’t let her associate with them. Phillis Wheatley was between two worlds, belonging to neither. This was made even more apparent when Phillis was not named in Mr. Wheatley’s will.  Yet, through the Wheatleys she had met Benjamin Franklin, attended balls, written and published poetry. One poem, dedicated to George Washington, elicited a note from Washington who said he’d visit if he came to Boston. When Washington was in Boston, he sent soldiers to get her and was surprised to discover the poet was a black woman. And he might have been surprised to learn that although Ms. Wheatley was smart and educated and talented, with connections and published works, Phillis died at 31 in poverty in a boarding house with little heat. He would probably not be surprised that her words live on.

The world would be less beautiful, less inspired, without Phillis Wheatley. Dr. Daisy Century, also a published author, portrays this talented poet with respect and flair.

John Witherspoon Portrayed by Bob Gleason

Bob Gleason invites you to meet Reverend John Witherspoon, a man considered to have more presence, with the exception of George Washington, than anyone of his time. All this man had to do was to walk through the door and you immediately felt that you were basking in the glow of someone important. This imposing man was intelligent, hard-working and committed to being useful. Asked to head Princeton University, Witherspoon initially turned down the opportunity in deference to his wife’s desire to remain in Scotland. Then Richard Stockton implored Benjamin Rush to urge Mrs. Witherspoon to reconsider this chance to mold and/or educate America’s up-and-comers. Mrs. Witherspoon reconsidered.

Witherspoon loved America from the moment he arrived and he thrived on the challenges he faced at Princeton, before he turned his attention and his talents to American politics. He went to the Continental Congress and declared that the country isn’t just ripe for independence, it is fairly rotten for the lack of it! Reverend Witherspoon’s influence was felt for generations, whether he was inspiring Princeton students, officiating at the marriage of Benjamin Rush to Richard Stockton’s daughter Julia, or helping to pass the Declaration of Independence.

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Betsy Ross Portrayed by Jill Lawrence