Cover

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Half Title, Series Info, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

This book has been a decade and a half in the making, and has met with many helpful allies over the years, from Spanish Town, Jamaica, and Charleston, South Carolina, to Edinburgh, Scotland. If I may single out the more persistent advocates for David Douglass and his theatres in America, it is that convivial knot of architectural historians at Colonial Williamsburg—Cary Carson, Carl Lounsbury, ...

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Preface. “The Velim Lyth Bare”: A Note on Absence and Other Sources

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pp. xi-xviii

In the conservatory wing of the DeWitt-Wallace museum in Colonial Williamsburg sleeps Charles Willson Peale’s portrait of Nancy Hallam in the role of Imogen (disguised as Fidele) in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. Her portrait helped to advance Peale’s career, socially and artistically. ...

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Prologue. The Most Well-Connected Man in America Receives a Letter from Congress, and Is Put Out of Business

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pp. 1-10

If one went looking for the tipping point in the run-up to the American Revolution—that point of reckoning beyond which violent separation was inevitable—it would not be the destruction of the tea in Boston harbor, or the blockade of Boston by British warships, or even the gathering of the First Continental Congress, all of which, ...

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Chapter 1. A Season of Great Uncertainty: New York, October 1774

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pp. 11-17

A small tax in a series of small taxes had been lately imposed on East India tea, and when a cargo of it sailed into Boston, a fiery group of radicals costumed as Mohawks, who styled themselves the Sons of Liberty, marched to the harbor and pitched the tea overboard. Even the subterfuge was marked with the same transatlantic hybridity that would characterize this generation: ...

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Chapter 2. A Disastrous Arrival: New York, October 1758

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pp. 18-24

Perhaps it was a good omen that the cannons at Fort George in New York harbor sounded in welcome that morning, and the houses shone in a grand illumination the evening Douglass first sailed to New York. But the celebration was not in honor of an obscure company of strolling actors from the West Indies sailing in the thick of the hurricane season. ...

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Chapter 3. Building a Network: 1759–1760

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pp. 25-39

When young London rake William Hickey exhausted his father’s patience and was shipped to Calcutta, Hickey carried with him nearly two dozen letters of introduction: “I believe there never was a man better recommended than myself.”1 Two dozen letters attested to his promise (composed by friends and family relieved to be rid of him); ...

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Chapter 4. London in a Box

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pp. 40-56

Looking over the wealth of images of provincial English theatres, such as those in James Winston’s The Theatric Tourist, the eighteenth-century provincial theatre does not always look like a particularly attractive place. Many appear little better than frumpy barns on the outskirts of town, tarted up with a portico. But in spite of the raw appearance of colonial theatres on the provincial circuits, the theatre was, ...

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Chapter 5. This Wandering Theatre: Newport, New York, Charleston, 1761–1763

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pp. 57-68

Among the many pleasures denied the itinerant actor: a permanent home and address for receiving mail and visitors (Douglass had dead letters waiting in Newport and Philadelphia for months), year-round acquaintances, a church pew of one’s own, a garden.1 Richard Ketchum notes that in New York in 1760 ...

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Chapter 6. Heart of Oak, and Other Transatlantic Transformations: April 1764–October 1766

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pp. 69-80

That J. T.’s query went unanswered is some indication of the confusion over the use of titles in British America, but it is also some indication of the extraordinary possibilities of the long eighteenth century that even actors could acquire titles. Somewhere in the mid-1760s David Douglass began to style himself “gentleman,” and by the close of the decade “Esquire,” ...

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Chapter 7. Murder in the Greenroom, and Other London Interludes: 1764–1765

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pp. 81-94

The urgency of the shipping news was a bit of a stretch: Douglass had only just arrived in London and would dawdle in town for well over a year, before he and his new recruits, scenes, and machines would return to America.1 Moreover, the news of his arrival likely could not have reached New York by July 5, as he had disembarked in mid-June.2 ...

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Chapter 8. Sailing on an Unwelcomed Ship: 1765–1766

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pp. 95-112

It is an odd thought, but quite thinkable in 1765: a tax on the London theatres might have prevented the Revolution and loss of the British colonies in America. It was actually proposed but dismissed in favor of the stamp tax. More the pity, as it would certainly have mollified the dissent that followed the enactment of the Stamp Act. ...

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Chapter 9. The Politics of Frugality: 1767–1769

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pp. 113-131

The targets of the destruction in New York and Boston during the Stamp Act—the houses of the placemen, the carriage of the lieutenant governor who enforced the policies—were understandable targets in the assault on unpopular British policy. These men were charged with overseeing the act. ...

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Chapter 10. Associations and Binges: 1770

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pp. 132-150

The Townshend years were difficult. They were times of great solidarity against taxation and luxury, but they were also times of great inequity, when the price of patriotism was administered on a sliding scale that favored the elite and punished the small merchant. Markets for London manners were in short supply in British America, and Douglass remained in his retreat in Virginia. ...

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Chapter 11. Lords of the Turf: Maryland, 1770–1771

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pp. 151-159

John Gordon, president of the Maryland Committee of Inspection, that self-appointed body which oversaw compliance to the nonimportation agreements, summed up the movement: “Resolved: that the Non-Importation Agreement is a measure well calculated to prevent Luxury, to promote Industry, and procure a redress of American Grievances.” ...

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Chapter 12. Great Reckonings in Small Rooms: 1773–1774

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pp. 160-192

Tavern bills don’t tell the whole story, just the entertaining part: “the past time with good company,” as Henry VIII sang it. The volumes of claret, madeira, and port lubricated a great deal of social advancement along many intersecting lines of allegiances: familiar, mercantile, and national. Clubs such as Charleston’s St. Andrew’s Society ...

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Chapter 13. Christopher Gadsden’s Wharf: Charleston, Summer 1774

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pp. 193-201

If one sought out the ten wealthiest people in colonial America in 1774, nine of them could be found within a carriage ride of Charleston. In spite of the vigorous join-or-die committees, boycotts, and nonimportation agreements elsewhere in the colonies, at the close of May 1774 business had never been better in Charleston. ...

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Chapter 14. The Second America: New York, Winter 1774

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pp. 202-215

By the end of the summer of 1774, British America was in a state of revolt, and none of its administrators seemed to know how to ratchet down the conflict. Overlapping tiers of authority (traditional and self-anointed) troubled the notion of authority itself. ...

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Epilogue. Final Reckonings: New York, January 1775

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pp. 216-222

Not many at the time thought the marriage between Britain and America would really come to such a nasty divorce, but having come to it, fewer understood how deep or costly the separation would truly be. James Robinson, the hopeful tobacco-broker, wrote in that spring of 1775: “[I]n what manner this unnatural and alarming contest betwixt Britain and the colonies may be settled I know not. ...

Notes

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pp. 223-252

Works Cited

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pp. 253-270

Index

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pp. 271-274

Further Series Titles

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