Fostering Early American Nationalism through Theater

A paper which examines how theater was influential in shaping American identity in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

The paper shows that early American literature played a major role in fostering American Nationalism. It examines how, through plays such as “The Contrast” by Royall Taylor and “The Indian Princess” by James Nelson Baker, the ideals and ideas important to a fledgling nation were explored, reinforced and revered.
“For mankind, childhood and the teenage years are the periods in which the human character is formed. Similarly, for a fledgling nation, the early years are crucial in defining the national identity of a country. From the pamphlets of Thomas Paine through to the novels by Sedgwick, literature played a great part in this nurturing of a nation. The ideas and aims contained in such works served to form the American identity and underpin the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. Alongside the written word, the spoken word played its own part. The theater became a venue for the fostering of American Nationalism through the plays such as Royall Tyler in The Contrast and James Nelson Barker’s The Indian Princess.”