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Our American Cousin

Tom Taylor

Book Overview: 

Our American Cousin is an 1858 three-act play by English playwright Tom Taylor. The play is a farce whose plot is based on the introduction of an awkward, boorish, but honest American, Asa Trenchard, to his aristocratic English relatives when he goes to England to claim the family estate. . . . Although the play achieved great renown during its first few years and remained very popular throughout the second half of the 19th century, it is best remembered as the play U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was attending in Ford's Theatre when he was assassinated by actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865. - Summary by Wikipedia

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .I ain't going to kiss you. Here's your young man's letter. [Gives letter and attempts to kiss her.]

Flo In the old country, Mr. Trenchard, cousins content themselves with hands, but our hearts are with them. You are welcome, there is mine. [Gives her hand, which he shakes heartily.]

Asa That'll do about as well. I won't kiss you if you don't want me to; but if you did, I wouldn't stop on account of that sailor man. [Business of Vernon threatening Asa.] Oh! now you needn't get your back up. What an all-fired chap you are. Now if you'll have me shown to my room, I should like to fix up a bit and put on a clean buzzom. [All start.] Why, what on earth is the matter with you all? I only spoke because you're so all-fired go-to-meeting like.

Flo Show Mr. Trenchard to the red room, Mr. Binny, that is if you are done with it, Mr. Dundreary.

Dun Yeth, Miss Florence. The room and I have got through with each other, yeth.

[Asa. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Abraham Lincoln spent his final hours watching a phenomenally silly play.

I was dreading this because most of the reviews are quite negative. But I found that, with a little imagination, it isn't all that bad. The humor is definitely of the physical sort (hence the need for an imagination) and has equal fun with the Backwoodsy American and the Posh British cousins. Not...more

This play is memorable only because it was the one President Lincoln was watching when he was shot. The line which served as Booth's cue to fire the fatal shot, "You sockdologizing old man-trap", occurs three fourths of the way through, and now that I have read the play, I can't help but think it...more

A cunning american, Asa Trenchard, descends on his British relations with an inheritance and a hankering to get a ring around their noses. Florence Trenchard wants to marry Vernon but Vernon has no ship. Georgina wants to marry Lord Dundreary, but Lord Dundreary is an idiot. Coyle wants to marry...more

Some of us knew that when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on the evening of April 14, 1865, at Washington, D.C. 19s Ford 19s Theater, he was in the middle of watching a play called 1COur American Cousin. 1D Until this past week, I had not read that play, and knew only a few tidbits abo...more