Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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SILSBEE, Joshua S., actor, born in Litchfield, Connecticut, 4 January, 1815; died in San Francisco, California, 22 December, 1855. He made his first appearance on the stage at Natchez, Mississippi, in the winter of 1837, and afterward played Jonathan Ploughboy in " Forest Rose" at the Walnut street theatre, Philadelphia, in 1841. He appeared as a star soon afterward in Boston. Going to England in 1851, he was the first comedian to introduce Yankee characters on the stage in that country, opening at the Adelphi, London, in his favorite part of Jonathan Plough-boy. During his residence in England, Tom Taylor, the dramatic author, is said to have written for him the play that afterward became famous as "The American Cousin," though it is doubtful whether he ever appeared in it. After his death his widow brought the piece to the United States and sold it to Laura Keene. Soon afterward John Sleeper Clark brought out the play in Philadelphia, and from the disputed ownership arose a long copyright lawsuit. Laura Keene subsequently sold, or gave, her copy to Edward A. Sothern. The Yankee part was thus probably first played not by Silsbee, but by Joseph Jefferson, under Miss Keene's management.
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