- A three-act play by Edward Sheldon, The Nigger was produced by Winthrop Ames on 4 December 1909 and presented as part of a repertory season at the New Theatre. The explosive title was decided upon by Sheldon, who abandoned his original title Philip Morrow in order to make clear the attitudes of his white characters about the black ones in the play. Southern governor Philip Morrow is elected as a white supremacist, but is blackmailed by his cousin Clifford Noyes, a disreputable liquor distiller. Noyes is angry about Morrow's refusal to veto prohibition legislation and holds a letter proving that Morrow's grandmother was a Negro slave. Refusing to capitulate to Noyes's blackmail, and with the support of his loyal fiancée Georgiana, Morrow faces his constituency with the truth of his past and a newfound commitment to work for the betterment of African Americans. Critics were divided over the play and some felt that its race issues were sublimated to the play's romantic story. The Nigger spawned touring companies and a 1915 motion picture version retitled The New Governor.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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