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News & Events

USBF series chronicles life of US Founding Father Charles Thomson



Date Posted: February 7, 2018

BBC Northern Ireland presents The Man Who Told the Truth, a landmark documentary detailing the life and times of United States Founding Father, Charles Thomson, a remarkable Ulster-Scot from the townland of Gorteade near Maghera. The one-hour film, which received support from Northern Ireland Screen’s Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund, broadcasts on BBC Two Northern Ireland on Sunday 11 February at 10pm.

Charles Thomson was the secretary of America’s first Congress and played a central role in creating the United States.  As the only permanent office-holder in a fragile new country, he virtually ran the administration for over a decade before conferring on George Washington the new job of President in 1789.

In human terms, Thomson’s story is inspiring. When Charles was ten he found himself destined for America with his father, John, who was hopeful of a better life in the New World. John died on the voyage and Charles arrived on the shores of a land 3000 miles from his home, a destitute orphan. Despite this terrible beginning he rose through America’s elite to become one of its Founding Fathers, collaborating along the way with distinguished figures like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.

Meticulous in all that he said and did, Charles Thomson acquired a reputation for honesty, particularly in his dealings with the native American people of Pennsylvania. He was even adopted by them and given the name, ‘The Man Who Told the Truth’.

The career of this extraordinary Ulster-Scot is traced by Bruce Clark, a veteran foreign news reporter for the Economist and the Financial Times, who like Thomson, grew up in Gorteade townland and still calls it home. In course of the film, Bruce travels to America to follow in Thomson’s footsteps and unravel his gripping story.

Producer Kathryn Baird says, “Piecing together Thomson’s story and learning how crucial his Ulster-Scots honesty and forthrightness were to the formation of the United States, has been a memorable and rewarding challenge.”

Director Mal Marken adds, “It was a privilege to be tasked with bringing the extraordinary life story of Charles Thomson to the screen and to be given the opportunity to reflect on just how pioneering, exceptional and ground-breaking this Ulster-Scot really was.”

The Man Who Told the Truth was produced by Belfast-based independent production company, Imagine Media with support from Northern Ireland Screen’s Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund.

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