Sewall, Jonathan (pen name Sir Roger de Coverly)

1729 – 1796

Dramatic Works

[The Americans Roused, in]: A Cure for the Spleen. Or Amusement for a Winter’s Evening (1775)

[The Americans Roused, in]: A Cure for the Spleen. Or Amusement for a Winter’s Evening (1775)

Production & Reception History


Print & Publication History

“[Boston] America: Printed and sold in the Year MDCCLXXV.” [1775]. (the Boston version is entitled “A cure for the spleen). 32 pp.

“New-England, Printed; New-York, Re-printed, by James Rivington.” [1775?]. (the New York version is entitled “The Americans Roused, in a Cure for the Spleen”). 32 pp.

Genre & Structure

  • “amusement for a winter’s evening,” political satire
  • “propaganda play” (Loyalist)
  • no structural breaks other than entrances and exits; more rhetorical exercise than drama

Gender Relevance

Mercy Otis Warren satirizes Sewall as “Philalethes” in The Defeat;

Key Words & Themes

liberty, rights, rebellion, tavern legal issues

Additional Information

Sewall was a politician, the last British attorney general of Massachusetts (1767-1775); the play represents a tavern conversation that satirizes the Massachusetts provincial council, and its representative “Puff,” who cannot make a convincing argument for the Patriots, and in the end is convinced by all the Tories in the room, and begins “to see things in a different light from what I did” (32, Boston ed.); the play discusses the rights of English citizens, the question of what “liberty” means (essentially private liberty), legal history, the tea and stamp Acts, the legality of rebellion; the play uses the metaphor of unruly children to describe the American colonists


Early American Imprints, Series 1, nos. 14454 (Boston), and 14455 (New York)

Evans Early American Imprint Collection (Boston) and (New York)

Secondary Sources

Richardson, Gary A. American Drama from the Colonial Period through World War I: A Critical History. New York: Twayne, 1993. 31.

Wilmer, S. E. Theatre, Society and the Nation: Staging American Identities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 35-38.

(only brief references, no in-depth treatment available)