Performing Nation: The Pleasure Garden as a Space for Defining America

  • Naomi J. Stubbs
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History book series (PSTPH)


Describing a typical evening at a pleasure garden, the first part of this 1799 poem describes a scene that could easily be set in Vauxhall of London; the simple amusements, choice of language, and even the name of the garden itself all conjure up an evening spent at Vauxhall in London. Yet the closing couplet places us firmly outside of England:

While Hail Columbia! from the band,

Proclaims a free and happy land.1


National Identity American Site Entertainment Venue English Culture Cultural Legitimacy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    Thomas M. Garrett, “A History of Pleasure Gardens in New York City, 1700–1865” (PhD diss., New York University, 1978), 604.Google Scholar
  2. Susan-Mary Grant, “When was the First New Nation?: Locating America in a National Context,” in When is the Nation?: Towards an Understanding of Theories of Nationalism, ed. Atsuko Ichijo and Gordana Uzelac (London: Routledge, 2005), 157–76.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Anthony D.Smith, Chosen Peoples: Sacred Sources of NationalIdentity(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 24.Google Scholar
  4. Eric J. Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism Since 1780 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), chap. 1.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Harold Donaldson Eberlein and Cortlandt Van Dyke Hubbard, “The American ‘Vauxhall’ of The Federal Era,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 57 (1944): 154, 157;Google Scholar
  6. Geraldine Duclow, “Philadelphia’s Pleasure Gardens,” Performing Arts Resources 21 (1998): 2.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    David Gerstner, “Nineteenth-Century Formulations of Masculinity and Realism: The Body of Edwin Forrest,” chap. 1 in Manly Arts: Masculinity and Nation in Early American Cinema (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kim C. Sturgess, Shakespeare and the American Nation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 10.
    Jeffrey H. Richards, Drama, Theatre and Identity in the American New Republic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), part II.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 11.
    Jared Brown, The Theatre in America during the Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 12.
    Royall Tyler, The Contrast: A Comedy in Five Acts (1787; Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1920), 20.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    Michael Warner, “What’s Colonial About Colonial America?” in Possible Pasts: Becoming Colonial in Early America, ed. Robert Blair St. George (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000), 62;Google Scholar
  13. Malini Johar Schueller and Edward Watts, eds, Messy Beginnings: Postcoloniality and Early American Studies (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003), 2–3 and 11.Google Scholar
  14. 21.
    David John Jeremy, ed., Henry Wansey and His American Journal: 1794 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1970), 95, 112.Google Scholar
  15. 24.
    William Parker Cutler and Julia Perkins Cutler, eds., Life Journals and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler, L.L.D. (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke, 1888), 1:278.Google Scholar
  16. Fanny Burney, Evelina; or, The History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World (London: Harrison, 1861), 217.Google Scholar
  17. 38.
    Ruth M.Elson, Guardians of Tradition:American Schoolbooks of the Nineteenth Century (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1964), 103.Google Scholar
  18. 39.
    Ian Dougherty, Vauxhall Gardens: Dunedin’s Notorious Victorian Pleasure Gardens (Dunedin, NZ: Saddle Hill, 2007).Google Scholar
  19. 41.
    Alan S. Downer, ed., The Memoir of John Durang: American Actor, 1785–1816 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1966), 33.Google Scholar
  20. 44.
    See for example Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).Google Scholar
  21. 52.
    Anne C. Loveland, Emblem of Liberty: The Image ofLafayette in the American Mind (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1971).Google Scholar
  22. A. Levasseur, Lafayette inAmerica in 1824 and 1825; or, Journal of a Voyage to the United States (Philadelphia: Carey and Lea, 1829), 1:97–98.Google Scholar
  23. 54.
    Caroline Winterer, The Culture of Classicism: Ancient Greece and Rome in American Intellectual Life, 1780–1910 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004).Google Scholar
  24. 56.
    P. T. Barnum, The Life of P. T. Barnum Written by Himself (New York: Tubbs, Nesmith, and Teall, 1854; Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000), 210;Google Scholar
  25. Ethan Robey, “The Utility of Art: Mechanics’ Institute Fairs in New York City, 1828–1876” (PhD diss., Columbia University, 2000), 628–35.Google Scholar
  26. 64.
    James Tallmadge, Address, Delivered at the Close of the Sixteenth Annual Fair of the American Institute, New-York, October, 1843 (New York: James Van Norden, 1843), 19.Google Scholar
  27. 75.
    Michael R. Lynn, “Sparks for Sale: The Culture and Commerce of Fireworks in Early Modern France,” Eighteenth-Century Life 30, no. 2 (Spring 2006):75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 81.
    David Waldstreicher, In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes: The Making of American Nationalism, 1776–1820 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997);Google Scholar
  29. Simon P. Newman, Parades and the Politics of the Street: Festive Culture in the Early American Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Len Travers, Celebrating the Fourth: Independence Day and the Rites of Nationalism in the Early Republic (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Naomi J. Stubbs 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naomi J. Stubbs

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations