Dock Street Theater, Charleston, S.C.
Date of Construction - early 1800s
(On site of earlier 18th century Theater)
    Site of first presentation (November 11th & 18th, and December 17, 1735) of Joseph Addison's Cato in the colonies. Originally presented in London on April 14, 1712, and 226 more times there by 1776. Addison's original intent was "to delight and to instruct in the realm of manners and character building, instead of politics." Following its performance in Charleston, S.C., Cato was next presented in the colonies on September 10, 1736 , in Williamsburg by the "young gentlemen of the College of William and Mary." It was then chosen by the first professional acting company in Philadelphia for its initial performance on August 22, 1749. On September 20, 1750, Cato was presented in New York City where the Post Boy described the performance as follows:

                "Thursday evening last, the tragedy of Cato was played at the
                Theater in this City, before a very numerous audience, the greater
                part of whom were of the opinion that it was pretty well performed:
                as it was the fullest assemby that has appeared in that house. It may
                serve to prove that the taste of this place is not so much vitiated, or
                lost to a sense of liberty, but that they can prefer a representation of
                Virtue, to those of loose character."

    Lengthy quotations from the play peppered the political rhetoric of the 1760s and 1770s. The Massachusetts Spy), a colonial newspaper, ran as its masthead theme from November 22, 1771 to April 6, 1775 the following lines of Cato (Act III, IV, 79-81):
                Do thou Great Liberty inspire our Souls -
                    and make our Lives in thy Possession happy -
                Or, our Deaths glorious in thy just defence.

    The most celebrated performance of Addison's Cato on colonial soil came in the Spring of 1778 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, when George Washington ordered his tattered troops to put on a performance of Cato, to which the citizens of Philadelphia flocked. Forrest McDonald (Novus Ordo Seclorum, 1985, University Press of Kansas, p.195) claims that "

                                                       ........that Washington and no small number of
                other founders used as a personal substitute for republican virtue. It
                seems likely that the source of the ideal, in Washington's case, was
                Joseph Addison's play Cato. that he saw the play a number of times,
                that it was probably his favorite serious drama, and that he hah had
                it staged as an inspiration to his troops are well known. That he
                identified himself with one of its characters in a youthful letter, that
                he repeatedly quoted from the play (without attribution) in his mature
                correspondence, and that he used one of its lines in his Farewell
                Address are all documenable. That it offered a role model that was
                strikingly similar to the way in which Washington patterened his life
                is indicated by a careful reading of the play."