Connections (co 2000)
Michael D. Norman
Richard Henry Lee
Soldiers 1,2,3,4,5,6Lady soldier 1
Lady soldier 2
General Von Steuben
Susan B. Anthony
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Martin Luther King
Announcer: Will everyone please stand to “Pledge Allegiance” to our flag.
(All suggested music and dance may be eliminated. Real people should state their name prior to their speeches.)
Act One, Scene 1 Chorus Sings “This Land Is Your Land”
Benjamin Edward is sitting at his desk doing his social studies homework. The scene is set in front of the curtain.
Benjamin Edward: This is ridiculous! We are in the twenty-first century. Who cares what happened before the American Revolution? Why do I have to study this? I’d rather be playing with my play station. What a waste of time. I don’t see any connection with my life and what happened in ancient history.
There is a puff of smoke and there appears a person dressed in a red, white, and blue outfit. He is wearing a tall top hat.
Uncle Sam: Ridiculous! Let me show you how ridiculous. Just come with me Benjamin Edward.
Ben: ’m not going anywhere! Who are you, anyway?
U.S.:That’s hard to explain. Let me show you. Touch my sleeve.
Ben touches Uncle Sam’s sleeve and there is a puff of smoke and a loud sound..
Continental Congress Setting
9 chairs and a podium
Act 1, Scene 2
The new scene is in The House of Burgesses in Williamsburg, Virginia in the year 1775
Uncle Sam: (Pointing to man at a lectern) That’s Patrick Henry. He’s about to make speech.
Ben: Won’t they see us?
U.S.: No, they can not see or hear us, but we can listen what is being said.
Patrick Henry: Caesar had his Brutus; Charles the First, his Cromwell; and George the Third...
The Speaker: Treason, treason
P. Henry: ...may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.
Ben: What is he talking about?
U.S. : Taxes and Laws that would limit the American colonies freedoms. Listen, as he exclaims who he is.
The Speaker: As Virginians we must support the king of England.
P. Henry: I am not a Virginian, but an American.
Speaker: Our freedoms and laws come from the Crown. All talk that separates us from England is traitorous.
P. Henry: I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know no way of judging of the future but by the past.
Speaker: Your words will condemn you to be hanged. I hope to see the day when a rope from the highest scaffold holds you around the neck. Your words will lead us to war!
P. Henry: Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!
Ben: Did he live? Was he hung?
U.S.: No, Patrick Henry went to the Continental Congress. Later worked to get the Bill of Rights attached to the new U.S. Constitution, and he served five exhausting terms as governor of Virginia. He really believed what I believe, and you know what that is?
Ben: No, tell me.
U.S.: Let me show you more. Touch my sleeve. ( a puff of smoke}
Curtain Opens Same Scene
Act One, Scene 3
Basically the same scene. We are now in Liberty Hall in Philadelphia. The Continental Congress is in session. It is the eve of independence. The representatives are trying to decide whether to accept and sign the latest draft of the Declaration of Independence.
John Hancock: Gentlemen, gentlemen! Enough of this bickering. Are there any more questions of Thomas Jefferson, or the other members of the committee on this Declaration of Independence?
Samuel Chase: If we sign this document, our homes and businesses may be sacrificed. Even our lives could be lost. What’s to protect our families.
Ben Franklin: We all have much to lose, but if we stand together that will be our greatest protection.
Richard Henry Lee: I am Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, I am a wealthy landholder, but I will give all that up for liberty’s sake. I will not allow my ancestors to look back and say I lacked the courage to support my ideals.
Oliver Wolcott: Bravo! Mr. Lee. I’m Oliver Wolcott from Connecticut and I too will give my all for Liberty. I’ll sign this Declaration of Independence.
Roger Sherman: Roger Sherman, Connecticut, I helped frame this document. Please let Thomas Jefferson read some of it to you.
Thomas Jefferson: When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Ben Franklin: 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,...
John Adams: 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.
Roger Sherman: Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Richard Henry Lee: But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Charles Carroll: Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
Sam Adams: 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; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.
John Hancock: And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Gentleman, let us all sign. I will write my signature so large that King George will be able to read it without his spectacles. Song “Stand By Me”
All the delegates step forward to sign the Declaration of Independence. Curtain closes. In front of the stage are Ben and Uncle Sam
Ben: Wow, “All men are created equal.” Did everyone believe that in those days?
U.S.: Well, I did. But the slave owners and Tories didn’t. There were many who scoffed. There was a force though that did. George Washington and his ragged troops held up at Valley Forge. They believed it and I believe it and I still do! And you know who I am?
Ben: No, who are you?
U.S.: Touch my sleeve and I’ll show you more.
Act Two, Scene 1
Our location changes. This is the parlor of Betsy Ross. There is a spinning wheel, a table, several chairs. Pieces of red, white, and blue fabric are hanging off the edges of the table. On stage is George Washington, Francis Hopkinson, and Betsy Ross.
Washington: Mrs. Ross this is Francis Hopkinson, the delegate from New Jersey.
Betsy: How do you Mr. Hopkinson.
Francis: How do you do. Let me show you my design for our country’s flag. (He takes out a drawing of the flag).
Betsy: This is very nice a circle of stars on a blue background, with red and white stripes. Why those colors?
Francis: The white stands for purity and innocense. For revolutionary goals are pure. The red is for valor and hardiness. The blue is for vigilance, perseverance, and justice. If our cause is true we will persevere and then we always be vigilant to keep our liberty.
Betsy: I’ll start working on it right away.
Washington: Make those stars six pointed. You can cut two triangles and then sew one on the other. That will save time.
Betsy: No, General Washington, that will only make more work. Let me show you. With only one snip of the scissors I can make a five pointed star.
Washington: That is much easier. You know what you’re doing. Go ahead then.
Betsy: Mr. Hopkinson, why do you want the stars in a circle?
Francis: The thirteen stars represent the thirteen new states, and by putting them in a circle they will be shown as equals. No state will be seen as superior to the others. When can you be finished.
Betsy: I know our nation needs a flag right away. I will work night and day. It should be finished in a week.
Francis: General, how does that sound to you?
Washington: That’s great! It will be moral booster for my men at Valley Forge.
Curtain Opens(The chorus sings: “It’s a Grand Old Flag” Tap Dancers )Curtain Closes
Curtain Opens to Valley Forge SceneAct Two, Scene 2
Valley Forge: small cabins are seen in the background, men and women age dressed in rags, but their spirits seem high as they sing and tap dance to George M. Cohan’s “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy”.
Ben: Where are we?
U.S.: We are at Valley Forge. These men and women may seem cheerful, but they are near starvation. The only shoes some of them wear are rags wrapped around their feet. Food is scarce.
Soldier 1: Have the provisions come from Connecticut yet?
Soldier 2: I hear they are on there way.
Lady soldier 1: They’ve been on there way for a week. There is nothing to eat and my clothes are worn so thin that the slightest breeze and I freeze.
Lady soldier 2: My toes stick out of my stockings and my shoes have more holes that soles.
Soldier 3: I snared a rabbit this morning.. It’s not much but with some roots it could make a decent stew that you may share with me.
Soldier 4: General von Stueben wants us to line up for drill.
(The soldiers all line-up and come to attention)
von Steuben: Soldiers, I have seen you come from a ragtag, undisciplined, motley crew to a fine body of real soldiers. You can fight the best troops England can send and win.
Washington: Gentlemen, we now have colors and standard to lead us into battle.
(A group of soldiers with the new flag march onto the stage. Reprise: “It’s a Grand Old Flag”)
Salomon: General Washington I am Haym Salomon and I am here to present you with my entire fortune and the fortune of the Jewish community of Philadelphia so that you can purchase supplies for our troops
Trumbull: I am Governor Jonathan Trumbull from Connecticut and I have brought cattle, vegetables, arms, and uniforms from my state. This should help you survive this terrible winter.
Washington: Thank you gentlemen. I am pleased to announce that the patriots, Haym Salomon, has placed his entire fortune to at our disposal, and Governor Trumbull has thus purchased us food, provisions, and uniforms. Our cause for liberty will now be assured .
All Soldiers: Hooray for General Washington! Hooray for Haym Salomon! Hooray for Governor Trumbull
Soldier 5: The provisions from Connecticut are here!
Soldier 6: We can all eat!
U.S.: The harsh winter at Valley Forge was near its end.
Ben: Were they really able to defeat the British?
U.S.: Von Steuben’s training, fresh provisions from Connecticut and France, paid for by the finances of Haym Salomon made the difference. The Americans beat the British at Yorktown in battle that lasted from October 6-19, 1781. This was the last major battle of the war. The patriots had won.
Ben: So now everyone believed in liberty and was free?
U.S.: No! Many still doubted liberty. There were large numbers of slaves. Women, though not slave, they were not free. But I believed in Liberty and I still do. You know who I am.
Ben: No, who are you?
U. S.: Let me show you. Touch my sleeve.
Act Three, Scene 1
Curtain opens. There is a table with Lincoln and Advisors sitting at it.
Abraham Lincoln is sitting at table with some of his advisors.
Lincoln: On this January 1st of 1863 I proclaim that all the slaves of the present Confederate States are now and forever free.
Advisor 1: This should bring the war to an end.
Advisor 2: When the Confederates see that their slaves are free their awful cause will be over.
Advisor 3: We can only hope that thousands of lives will be saved and that this dreadful war will end.
Song “American Folk Trilogy”
Ben: Did the war now end?
U. S.: No, the civil war would last another two years. It was the bloodiest war in America’s history. On July 1, 1863 the most terrible battle at Gettysburg waged for three days. Thousands were killed on both sides. The following November President Lincoln was invited to go to Gettysburg to dedicate the site as a cemetery honoring the war dead. Come with me now. Song “One Tin Soldier”
Act Three, scene 2 Curtain opens
President Lincoln is on a raised platform at the sight of a great battlefield at Gettysburg, PA. He is about to speak.
Reporter 1: What do you suppose Lincoln is going to say?
Reporter 2: What can he say? A lot of Union men died here and now we are going to make this into a cemetery honoring them..
Reporter 3: Do you think he’ll comment on all the Confederate losses.
Reporter 4: Why should he! They were the enemy!
Reporter 5: Shush, Lincoln is about to speak.
Lincoln: Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Reporter 6: What a speech! Do you think anyone will remember it?
All Reporters: Nah, by tomorrow it will be old news and his words will be forgotten.
(Chorus: “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”)
Ben: Well, after all this did everyone now believe in Liberty?
U. S.: No, prejudice and hatred still existed. Many still could not vote or take part in government.
Act Four, Scene 1 Curtain Opens
A group of women are march across the stage. They carry placards “Suffrage Now,” “Equal Rights for all,”
Woman 1: The women who raise the children should have a say in government.
Woman 2: We deserve the right to vote!
Heckler 1: Women belong in the kitchen. Give ‘em the vote and they won’t know what to do with it!
Heckler 2: Yeah! They got to do what men tell them to do! Hey, let’s throw a tomato at them. (Both hecklers throw red paper balls at the marching women.
Ben: What’s going on here?
U.S.: Most people don’t know of the heroic battle by women to gain the right to vote. Women received terrible ridicule for advocating the right to vote. It was a long fight, and it took acts of great courage before the 19th amendment was made part of the Constitution in 1920. The 19th amendment states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
Ben: Did this mean that everyone could vote now?
U.S.: We’re getting ahead of the story. Freedom never comes easily. Let us listen to the voices that made this break-through.
Mary Lyon: I, Mary Lyon, founded the first four-year college exclusively for women, Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. I told that first entering to Go forward, attempt great things, accomplish great things. And those first graduates to Go where no one else will go. Do what no one else will do.
Susan B. Anthony: It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people - women as well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government - the ballot.
Elizabeth C. Stanton: But we are assembled to protest against a form of government existing without the consent of the governed -- to declare our right to be free as man is free, to be represented in the government which we are taxed to support, to have such disgraceful laws as give man the, the property which she inherits, and, in case of separation, the children of her love; laws which make her the mere dependent on his bounty. power to chastise and imprison his wife, to take the wages which she earns
Lucretia Mott: In the beginning, man and woman were created equal. "Male and female created he them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam." He gave dominion to both over the lower animals, but not to one over the other.
Amelia Bloomer: I believe that the restrictive clothing women are forced partially keeps us enslaved. We must wear more pants like clothing and we women must fight the evils of alcohol. Temperance should be our watch word.
(Song “Please Don’t Sell My Daddy No More Wine” This should as a solo or small group.)
Rose Schneiderman: Discrimination is wrong and it goes on everyday, and has been occurring for a long time. History happens to you while you're doing the dishes.
Jane Addams: I am busy with the old question eternally suggested by the inequalities of the human lot. I am shocked by the horrid conditions that many of our poor put up with.
Lucy Stone: I was the first to keep my maiden name after I married. Because of that I was mistreated and ridiculed. I fought to abolish slavery and for women’s rights. The fact that women can not vote and are treated much like slaves must change. I refuse to pay taxes, Taxation without representation is wrong for women as it was wrong for the American revolutionaries. Will spend my life in these causes because I have always believed that we are put here to Make the world better.
Sojourner Truth: Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about? That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman? Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights?… If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them. Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say. Curtain Closes
U.S.: It took courage to speak out against oppression, and these women and thousands like them made possible the 19th amendment. Does equality now exist. Ben, touch my sleeve.
Act Four, Scene 2
Martin Luther King is speaking to a crowd in Washington, D.C.
King: Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.
But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
Song “Abraham, Martin, and John”
Ben: Well, is it true now? Are all Americans free, and do they all believe in freedom?
U. S. No, not yet, but I do. And you know who I am?
Ben: I think so, but you still better tell me.
U.S.: Why I am the American Dream. I am America.
Announcer: Please join us in the singing of “America the Beautiful.”
Introduction of the cast