Tom Geoghegan’s new play grapples with the hypocrisy of Thomas Jefferson

Lawyer Tom Geoghegan of Despres, Schwartz & Geoghegan, Ltd., has spent his career in court fighting for his clients’ civil rights and for the equal protection of the laws for all citizens. His work relies on the greatest principles embodied in our nation’s laws and founding documents and aims to put those principles to work in people’s every day lives. But ironically, the men who wrote those founding documents and designed our legal system lived lives that contradicted those principles in the most violent of ways. For instance, Thomas Jefferson, the man who penned the words “all men are created equal,” enslaved men, women, and children. That hypocrisy, which oddly lies at roots of so many of the laws that concern Tom in court, has also inspired his latest non-legal work: a play, called “Monticello,” which opens this weekend in Chicago.

In the play, Geoghegan imagines Jefferson struggling with this hypocrisy as he hosts a young Edgar Allan Poe, who was a student at the nearby University of Virginia at the end of Jefferson’s life, for dinner at his home. The play explores the hypocrisy from the perspective of an aging and troubled Jefferson, but also from the perspective of the enslaved women and men at Monticello. And though the play is concerned with a number of dark and troubling issues, Geoghegan still manages to display the wit and humor that his fans will recognize from his writing. For more information, read the feature by Hedy Weiss in the Sun-Times here and go buy tickets to the play – which runs through the first weekend in September, at