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1818: Publishing; arts and music; popular entertainment; architecture; theatre.

An unusual example of an American playwright of the early years of independence who won acclaim, although not riches, on both sides of the Atlantic was John Howard Payne (1791-1852). Showing a precocious interest in the drama, he published the Thespian Mirror in New York City when he was only 14. It so impressed the literary and theater world that he was encouraged to write. He proceeded to write a melodrama, Julia; or, The Wanderer in 1806. His early fame waned, and it was not until 1818, in England, that he regained recognition. Success stemmed from the production by Edmund Kean, the noted British actor, of Payne's Brutus; or, The Fall of Tarquin, which opened on Dec. 3. This romantic tragedy, in blank verse, was equally successful in New York in 1819. It was performed for many years. By 1832, after other successes and writing the poem "Home, Sweet Home," which was put to music, Payne was honored but died in debt while working on further literary and dramatic works.

Pirating of English novels became a highly competitive sport among U.S. publishers with the appearance here of Sir Walter Scott's tremendous success, Rob Roy. In the absence of copyright protection in the U.S. for foreign works, representatives of U.S. publishers sent clandestinely obtained proofs here by fastest boat, and printers worked around the clock to get the books to market.

The first lithograph produced in the U.S. was prepared by Bass Otis, a portrait painter and mezzotint engraver. The lithograph was a portrait of the Rev. Abner Kneeland, a Universalist clergyman and editor of religious magazines. It appeared as frontispiece for a volume of Kneeland's sermons. Some experts claim the portrait was technically not a lithograph because Bass etched it in stone, thus making it an intaglio instead of a surface process.

Jan. 1

The White House, as the restored Executive Mansion in Washington, D.C., was now called because of its gleaming new coat of white paint, was opened for a general reception. Burned out by the British in 1814, the building was ready for occupancy in the fall of 1817, but lacked proper furnishings.

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Author:Carruth, Gorton
Publication:Encyclopedia of American Facts & Dates, 9th ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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