The Shackles of Liberty

Paris, 1789. The Bastille has fallen and the French Revolution has begun. It is Thomas Jefferson’s last day as America’s Minister to France. Eager to make his mark upon European history, Thomas meets with Patriots of the National Constituent Assembly to help them put finishing touches on The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Meanwhile, Maria Cosway, Thomas’s Italian-English lover, arrives...
Paris, 1789. The Bastille has fallen and the French Revolution has begun. It is Thomas Jefferson’s last day as America’s Minister to France. Eager to make his mark upon European history, Thomas meets with Patriots of the National Constituent Assembly to help them put finishing touches on The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Meanwhile, Maria Cosway, Thomas’s Italian-English lover, arrives from England and tries to persuade Thomas to stay in Paris; she dreams of sharing Napoleonic power with him as the Revolution unfolds. Thomas’s oldest daughter, Patsy, balks at returning to Virginia; after five years studying in a convent, she wants to become a Catholic nun. Thomas’s quadroon servant Sally Hemings also insists upon staying in Paris, where she will never be a slave. During the course of the play, he discovers that she is pregnant. By the climax of Act II, Maria and Patsy have both abandoned their dreams: Maria heads back to England, and Patsy prepares to return to Virginia. But Sally holds firm, insisting that she won’t return to Virginia. During the play’s powerful final moments, Thomas and Sally bargain over the terms of her return—a negotiation that disturbingly resembles an auction. When Jefferson agrees to free Sally’s children, she chooses to return with him to America.
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The Shackles of Liberty

Awards

Semi-Finalist
,
New Playwrights Conference
,
Eugene O'Neill Theater Center
,
2017
Winner
,
Southern Playwrights Competition
,
Jacksonville State University
,
2016
Semi-Finalist
,
Ashland New Plays Festival
,
2016
Finalist
,
Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition
,
Alleyway Theatre, Buffalo, NY
,
2015