The Theater: A Parting Shot

When the Continental Congress included a ban on theatrical performances in its 1774 resolution against "every species of extravagance and dissipation," it seemed for a while that the delegates had unwittingly aided the enemy. Patriots felt bound to observe the ban while British occupying forces ignored it, thus turning the theatre into a vehicle of Loyalist propaganda. In Boston, for instance. General John ("Gentleman Johnny") Burgoyne transformed Faneuil Hall, the Patriot meetinghouse, into a playhouse. There he mounted productions of his own works, notably the scurrilous anti-American satire The Blockade...