Plays and Politics
This chapter discusses the part played by plays and theaters in early American society and in politics. The chapter talks about the notion that theatres and plays were a means of corruption of the morals and minds of early Americans and a hindrance to colonial resistance. It states that for several centuries, religious men had complained of the sinful effects that theaters had on actors and the audience. The Catholic Church had expressed disapproval by passing laws that prohibited actors from being buried in consecrated grounds and from converting into Christians without renouncing their professions. Theater during those early times was associated with the propagation of vice and an assault to female virtue. As a result of the abhorrence against theater and plays, the congressional delegates and the defenders of freedom engaged in a Puritan hostility and banned the theatre as a menace to the common cause of colonial resistance. The delegates to Congress in 1774 drew-up the first list of un-American activities which were believed to be corruptive and forms of vices. It was done as a part of their program of moral regeneration, a program designed to strengthen the collective will as a bulwark against political enslavement.
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