American Presidents Attend the Theatre

The Playgoing Experiences of Each Chief Executive

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About the Book

Not every presidential visit to the theatre is as famous as Lincoln’s last night at Ford’s, but American presidents attended the theatre long before and long after that ill-fated night. In 1751, George Washington saw his first play, The London Merchant, during a visit to Barbados. John Quincy Adams published dramatic critiques. William McKinley avoided the theatre while in office, on professional as well as moral grounds. Richard Nixon met his wife at a community theatre audition. Surveying 255 years, this volume examines presidential theatre-going as it has reflected shifting popular tastes in America.

About the Author(s)

Thomas A. Bogar is a professor at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, a judge for Washington, D.C.’s Helen Hayes Theatre Awards, and a consultant for the American Council on Education. He has written numerous journal articles and lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Thomas A. Bogar
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 441
Bibliographic Info: 114 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009 [2006]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4232-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0680-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v

Preface      1

1. Washington (1751–1782)      5

2. The Adamses and Jefferson Abroad (1778–1788)      13

3. Independence (1784–1799)      26

4. A New Capital (1800–1817)      40

5. Good Feelings, Bad Feelings (1817–1833)      49

6. The New National Theatre (1834–1844)      63

7. Unquiet Times (1845–1860)      76

8. Lincoln (1861–1863)      88

9. Opera, Forrest, and the Booths (1864–1865)      102

10. Aftermath (1865–1874)      116

11. The Gilded Age (1874–1881)      127

12. A Social White House (1881–1885)      141

13. Marriages (1885–1889)      153

14. The Rise of Realism (1889–1892)      161

15. The Turn of the Century (1893–1901)      171

16. TR (1901–1909)      181

17. Taft (1909–1910)      197

18. Offstage Drama (1910–1913)      209

19. Vaudeville (1913–1915)      219

20. Enter Edith (1915–1917)      230

21. Victory (1918–1921)      241

22. Jazz (1921–1924)      253

23. Boom and Bust (1924–1933)      262

24. Recovery (1933–1940)      274

25. Theatre of War (1941–1949)      285

26. Cold War Theatre (1950–1961)      295

27. Camelot (1961–1964)      305

28. Protest (1965–1974)      317

29. Vicissitudes (1974–1980)      328

30. An Actor in the White House (1981–1992)      340

31. Fundraisers and Family (1993–2005)      353

Afterword      363

Chapter Notes      365

Bibliography      401

Index      411

Book Reviews

“a good job…scholarly”—ARBA; “fascinating…highly readable, enjoyable”—Sea Classics; “fascinating”—HillRag; “the most fascinating read of any theater book to cross our desks this year…enlightening”—Potomac Stages.