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Dion Boucicault's controversial play about slavery opens at the Winter Garden Theater in New York City

Dion Boucicault, detail
12/12/1859
Dion Boucicault was a Dublin-born, London educated writer and actor who had recently spent several years in New Orleans. His play was based on a novel in the then popular genre of "fancy-girl" stories in which beautiful one-eighth negro women are sold at the auction block in dramatic circumstances. The Octoroon; or, Life in Louisiana portrayed a white raised daughter discovered to be part black and condemned to be sold at auction. Opening as it did four days after John Brown's execution, Boucicault's play did little to decrease tensions over slavery. (By John Osborne)
Source Citation: 
Della Pollock, Exceptional Spaces: Essays in Performance and History (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press), 58-59.

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