Liberty in Louisiana: A Comedy

Liberty in Louisiana: A Comedy

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Liberty in Louisiana: A Comedy

by James Workman

Edited by Bruce R. Magee and Stephen M. Payne

Out now!

About the Book

Liberty in Louisiana by James Workman is believed to be the oldest published play involving Louisiana, written in 1804 to celebrate the Louisiana Purchase. Set in New Orleans during a twenty-four-hour period from December 19 to 20, 1803, the narrative covers the final day of Spanish rule and the first day of American control. (Workman makes the handover from Spain to France to the United States occur all in one day.) This comedy of manners centers around a rich heiress named Laura and the various characters attempting to steal her money, including con artists Phelim O’Flinn and Sawny M‘Gregor. Meanwhile, her guardian and corrupt Spanish judge Don Bertoldo plots to divorce his wife and force Laura into wedlock so he can claim her wealth for himself. Will the Americans arrive in time to thwart the evil plots and save the day?

About the Author

James Workman was born in Ireland and studied law in England before immigrating to the United States in 1799. He moved to Charleston, South Carolina, and published and produced Liberty in Louisiana there in 1804. He moved to New Orleans shortly thereafter and advanced quickly in the legal and political system, taking on the role of secretary to Governor Claiborne. He later became a judge. Though the details are disputed, Workman was caught up in the Burr controversy, after which he was pushed out of his judgeship, put on trial, and disbarred. Eventually found not guilty, Workman left New Orleans but returned ten years later. He remained in the Crescent City until his death in 1832 as a well-respected citizen of the town.


About the Editors

Bruce R. Magee is the Robert Snyder Professor of English at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. Dr. Magee holds his bachelor of arts in history from Louisiana Tech, his MDiv and ThD from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and his PhD in comparative literature (classics) from LSU.

Stephen M. Payne is a writer of mystery/detective fiction, as well as a holder of a BA in British history and an MA in eighteenth-century English literature from Louisiana Tech University. He also attended Harvard Divinity School’s master of theological studies program and University of Southern Mississippi’s master of library and information sciences.

Magee and Payne coedit the Louisiana Anthology website, the internet’s largest collection of texts about the Pelican State, and cohost the weekly Louisiana Anthology Podcast. 


© 2024 University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press

Paperback, 134 pages | 6" x 9" | ISBN: 978-1-959569-09-1