Jonathan Richards, a novelist, film critic, actor, and political cartoonist, will talk about the infamous Shakespeare Riots that rocked New York’s Astor Place in May of 1849.
The confrontation grew out of the rivalry between the great British actor William Charles Macready and his home-grown rival, Edwin Forrest, the first American Shakespearean superstar. Class tensions and nativist pride boiled over into a full-fledged donnybrook as a mob ten thousand strong stormed the Astor Place Opera House where Macready was performing. The mayor called out the state militia, who fired on the crowd. More than twenty people were killed, and many more were injured.
It was one of the deadliest riots in New York City’s history. And it had far-reaching consequences.
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