Sept. 30, 2022

29. The Quaker City: The Forbidden Play of 1844, Part One

29. The Quaker City: The Forbidden Play of 1844, Part One

We set the scene for the 1844 battle over the play at Philadelphia's Chestnut Street Theater, entitled "The Quaker City, or the Monks of Monk Hall," by George Lippard. How and why this production came about will be the story of our next two episodes, as well.


The theater of Philadelphia was being staged during the roiling years of the 1840s. Bankruptcies, riots, labor unrest, growing religious fervor and racial tensions, rising crime (and public perception of crime due to increasing availability of journals and newspapers) were everywhere.

This is the context for the first episode of our Season Two: "Drama is Conflict," in which we set the scene for the 1844 battle over the play at Philadelphia's Chestnut Street Theater, entitled The Quaker City, or the Monks of Monk Hall, by George Lippard. How and why this production came about will be the story of our next two episodes, as well.

For more about the historical context of today's episode, including images of many of the people and events we discuss, see the blog post on our website: https://www.aithpodcast.com/blog/philadelphia-in-1844/

The image used for this episode is a detail from an 1844 lithograph entitled "The Death of George Shifler." It was a bit of popular propaganda produced by the nativist "American Republican Party," and supposedly depicted the death of the 19 year-old Shifler during the Kensington Riots of May 6, 1844. It is from the collection of the Library Company of Philadelphia. Persistent link: https://digital.librarycompany.org/islandora/object/digitool%3A65090

For more information about the riots, there is an excellent article in the online Encyplopedia of Greater Philadelphia: https://philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/essays/nativist-riots-of-1844/

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© Podcast text copyright, Peter Schmitz 2021/2022. All rights reserved.