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The Creolization of American CultureWilliam Sidney Mount and the Roots of Blackface Minstrelsy$
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Christopher J. Smith

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037764

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037764.001.0001

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Long Island and the Lower East Side

Long Island and the Lower East Side

Mount’s Background, Youth, and Apprenticeships

(p.79) 3 Long Island and the Lower East Side
The Creolization of American Culture

Christopher J. Smith

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the creolizing maritime cultures of Long Island and Manhattan, two New York islands that directly shaped William Sidney Mount's personal and musical world. It reconstructs the environments that Mount knew and by which he was shaped, as a child and young adult in antebellum America. To this end, the chapter considers how influences from Long Island and Manhattan play out in the life of Mount, in that of his uncle and musical mentor Micah Hawkins, and in Hawkins's 1824 ballad opera The Saw-Mill, or, A Yankee Trick. It begins with a discussion of evidence of blackface minstrelsy's creole synthesis in the antebellum period by describing two festival performances, Pinkster and 'Lection Day, and during the Federalist period. It then assesses the creole synthesis in black Manhattan by focusing on the “African Grove” Theater, along with Mount's first works and new career path following the death of Hawkins. It concludes with a review of Mount's scenic painting Rustic Dance after a Sleigh Ride.

Keywords:   blackface minstrelsy, Long Island, Manhattan, William Sidney Mount, Micah Hawkins, The Saw-Mill, creole synthesis, Pinkster, African Grove Theater

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