STARS & STRIPES: OVERTURE / SCENES 1-2

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

George Washington
John Adams
Samuel Adams
Benjamin Franklin
Martha Washinton
Betty Judge
Ona Judge
Dolly Madison
John McGraw
John Souissat
Paul Jennings
Charles Carrol
Bridget Turner
Nat Turner
Ceasar Jones
Zack Edgefield
Francis Key
Bridget Turner
Nat Turner
Ceasar Jones
Zack Edgefield
Andrew Jackson
Chief Junaluska
John Ross
Hiawasee
Oukonunaka
Bart Boone
Logan Morgan
Wesley Wyatt
Busty Adams
Preacher Virgil
Presiding Officer of the Senate
William Lloyd Garrison
Moses
Alexander
Julius
Evelina
Abraham Lincoln
William H Seward
V.P. Hannibal Hamlin
Salmon P Chaise
General Robert E Lee
Stonewall Jackson
Thomas
James
Walter H Taylor
James Longstreet
Joseph Rodman Drake

MUSIC

Stars & Stripes Forever
Amazing Grace
Yankee Doodle
Star Spangl’d Banner
Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen
The Arkansas Traveller
A Native American Pow-wow
Banks of Sacramento
Wagon Wheel
Dear Evelina
The Southern Wagon
The Battle Hymn Of The Republic
Dixie
The Star-Spang’d Banner


OVERTURE
Instrumental: The Stars & Stripes Forever


SCENE 1: The Founding Fathers

The Stars & Stripes are flying high / Enter George Washington holding the Declaration of Independence

George Washington
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved

Enter John Adams

John Adams
Yesterday the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America; and a greater perhaps never was, nor will be, decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, ‘that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States. The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

Enter Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams
General Washington, my cousin, John Adams, & all the Americans gathered here under the eyes of God. Who among you, my countrymen, that is a parent, would claim authority to make your child a slave because you had nourished him in his infancy? No man had once a greater veneration for Englishmen than I entertained. They were dear to me as branches of the same parental trunk, and partakers of the same religion and laws; but when I am roused by the din of arms: when I behold legions of foreign assassins, paid by Englishmen to imbrue their hands in our blood: when I tread over the uncoffined bones of my countrymen, neighbors and friends: when I see the locks of a venerable father torn by savage hands, and a feeble mother, clasping her infants to her bosom, and on her knees imploring their lives; when I behold my country, once the seat of industry, peace, and plenty, changed by Englishmen to a theatre of blood and misery.

We have now no other alternative than independence, or the most ignominious and galling servitude. To unite the supremacy of Great Britain and the liberty of America, is utterly impossible. So vast a continent and of such a distance from the seat of empire will every day grow more unmanageable. The people of this country have formally and deliberately chosen a Government for themselves.

Enter Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin
George, John, Sam, Countrymen & Brethren. Does thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of. Our revolution against a great power is well underway. The struggle is great but it is with little strokes that we fell great oaks. The axeman, General George Washington, leads our brave troops & I enjoy today what posterity will say of him. For a thousand leagues have nearly the same effect with a thousand years.

George Washington
Excuse me, gentlemen, I must take leave & rejoin the army

Exit Washington

Benjamin Franklin
We have now in the field armies sufficient to repel the whole force of our enemies. The hearts of our soldiers beat high with the spirit of freedom – they are animated with the justice of their cause, and while they grasp their swords, can look up to heaven for assistance.

Samuel Adams
Our Union is now complete; our constitution composed, established, and approved. You are now the guardians of your own liberties. We may justly address you, as the Decemviri did the Romans, and say – “Nothing that we propose can pass into a law without your consent. Be yourselves, O Americans, the authors of those laws on which your happiness depends.

John Adams
God Bless America

Samuel Adams & Benjamin Franklin
God Bless America

All
God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above
From the mountains to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home

Exit Adams, Samuel Adams & Franklin / Enter the Spirit of America

Spirit
As rivers whirr with bloodshed’s thick-red flow,
As wide plains ring with chivalry of sorts,
A monarch obstinate is made to know
America has flung him from the ports,
When since the surrender of Cornwallis,
No longer heel-kept subjects forced to be,
Grown citizens, not of the Colonies,
But thirteen states combin’d especially,
In state, in peace, whose, happy hearted zeal,
Has left old England’s egoistic heel.

All sides Jackflag of union down-torn,
Another crowns the steeples, hangs in bars,
A thing of beauty, Philadelphi born,
Of thirteen stripes; & in the canton, stars
Also thirteen – they’ll ever represent
A curlecued republic wrought anew,
Whose dedication plants a nation’s bed
That one day half-a-continent shall spread,
Whose sceptre’d glory, always, heaven-sent,
America’s commander-President.

Enter Washington

Spirit
E Pluribus unum, out of many
Comes one, one came, still burns the perfect flame
His Excellency lit, unlike any
Before, or since, pprogenitor of fame
Who swears solemnly, with regal reserve,
To… “maintain with faithful execution
The office of President; to preserve
Protect & defend the constitution!”
As thirteen cannon flatter with salvos
George kiss’d his Bible as if sniff’d the rose.

Washington
I address you all today with the most ardent love that a Country can inspire in a man. The magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of our young nation called me, has instilled within me a duty to form just appreciations of every circumstance, by which we might be affected. It would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect.

No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.

Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

Having thus imported to you my sentiments, as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign parent of the human race, in humble supplication that since he has been pleased to favour the American people, with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and dispositions for deciding with unparellelled unanimity on a form of Government, for the security of their Union, and the advancement of their happiness; so his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.

Exit George Washington


SCENE 2: Mount Vernon

Martha Judge & her daughter Ona are working in the kitchen – they are singing Amazing Grace

AMAZING GRACE

Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Enter Martha Washington

Martha
Betty, what did I tell you about singing those common negro songs in my kitchen

Betty
I’m sorry Mrs Washington

Martha
Just carry on as you were, but in silence – my husband, your master, & your president, will be home any minute –

Betty
He’s gonna be needing a good feeding, ma’am

Martha
That’s right, now get to it

Ona & Betty get to work / Enter The Spirit of America

Spirit
Up in the Big House, far from gloomy rooms,
Good mistress, Martha Washington, commands
The best domestics, Betty at the looms
True seamstress was, a needle in her hands
Conducted Verdi like swans on water;
Between them both, with eyes of beaming bronze,
Sits Ona Judge, Betty’s pretty daughter,
Who’s tying on the hat her master dons
For presidential meetings, ‘Look at me!’
She giggl’d, ‘I am noble, I am free!’

Enter George Washington, who sits down for his meal with Martha

Martha
I’ve sensed a certain slackness on their part,
If duty is not given by fair means
We must apply coercion, steel our heart
If trusted force be used, those brutal scenes
Deem rather proper, such impertinence
Should prosecuted be by public eye,
I’ll never trust a nigger – such pretence,
They’ whip each other softer than a fly –
But hand no more the whip to Hyland Crow,
He hates the negro & he lets them know.

George
My love, be sure, I’ll pass on your concerns,
But there is something else needs must attend,
In Pennsylvania most Blacks are free
& if a slave resides in that strange state
A full six months, they’ll earn their liberty,
An owner’s rights shall then lawfully end,
I heard that impudent huzzy, Betty,
Has been hollerin’ a storm of vain hope,
Thinkin’ Philadelphia is her fate –
I’d rather see her danglin’ from a rope.

Martha
The solution, as I plainly see it,
Always advise excuses to return
To our beloved homestead, so be it
Good & just for those wretches to learn
We own their fates, & if a slave believes
In six months freedom, let us leave in five,
I have no pity for these rogues & thieves;
Our apples, corn & meat here used to thrive,
While every time they serve a glass of wine
Those vultures guzzle two by shrewd design.

George
If you insist, my dear, but deep inside
I’m fluster’d by an ineffective sense
Of something waspish, this I can’t abide,
I see the white man by his picket fence,
Facing rough fields where black men labor long
In grating chains of slavery, rough-slapp’d,
I listen to the beauties of their song
& feel in them the soul of freedom trapp’d –
Our Union, & human dignity,
Depends on rootin’ out brute slavery.

Martha
There is a life to which the babe must yield,
My love, by fate or fortune, from its birth –
Tight-rooted wolfsbane, twisted in a field,
Or rhododendron of an arcade earth;
Ours was run plantations in Virginia,
Theirs, help us to run them by best means,
Let us unwaver from the linear,
Remembering to grow our maize & beans,
Leaving these problems to a future age
Whose abolitionists they’ll assuage.

Spirit
As adolescence sweetens & matures,
The ragged hedge seems less persistent cage
For one young lass, struck by the world’s allures
Prepares the flit, & dares the bold outrage,
Prepares to make the river run uphill
Tonight’s the night she’ll escape Mount Vernon,
Out slip’t she thro’ the moonlit window sill
Her heart was poundin’, her fate was burnin’ –
Meanwhile, downstairs, the Washington’s did dine,
On lovely supper with a Bordeaux wine.

No more cotton snows of summer, no more
The snapping whip, no more the sodden hay
Soak’d thro’ with tears as men wept on the floor,
No more the dawnings of the Devil’s day,
Soon Ona Judge is crown’d a chain-free wife!
A mother & a child of God remade,
Happy to lead the lapse of her long life,
Without the threat of yet one more tirade –
She is American, her rights upstand,
To live by law, free worship, & buy land.

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