Faculty Research at Morehead State University


Ideology Portrayed in Jacksonian Lexington: Politics, Popular Culture, and "Conscious" Language

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2002


Let the actors "be well used," Hamlet cried to Polonius, "for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time." William Shakespeare s statement concerning the nature of theater in early-seventeenth-century England also held true in Jacksonian Lexington, Kentucky In this period of great political discord, aristocratic Whigs battled democratic Jacksonians not only for immediate political supremacy, but also over the nation's direction. Historians have used traditional sources to analyze the conflicts of this era, but the popular culture of the time remains largely unexplored. Theater in the 1830s constituted the apex of this culture, "the most important form of commercial entertainment" according to historian James Dormon. Popular culture, then, and theater in particular, should factor into any discussion of the United States during Andrew Jackson's age, an era in which this examination of Lexington's entertainment industry suggests that thespians were indeed "well used" as "chronicles of the time."