John Howard Payne (9 June, 1791 – 10 April, 1852) was an American playwright, songwriter, composer, actor, and politician. During his lifetime he was very popular, but found most of his success in London, England.
Fun Facts about John Howard Payne:
- John Howard Payne was born in New York City. He had nine siblings, two girls and seven boys. His father taught elocution (public speaking) and the family moved around the east coast. While the family lived in Boston, the young man showed an interest in theater, however at age 14 he was sent to work in a NYC accounting firm.
- Nevertheless, the young Mr. Payne started his own newspaper Thespian Mirror, and later dropped out of Union College in Schenectady, NY to work in theater to help his family’s finances.
- John Howard Payne found success in New York theater scene, and in 1813 he moved to London. He was one of the first American actors to become successful in Europe.
- Mr. Payne traveled all over Europe, adapted French plays to theaters in England, and even spend time in debtor’s prison.
- In Paris Mr. Payne was infatuated with a young widow, Mary Shelley. However, he soon lost interest when he realized she’s using him to get to his roommate – Washington Irving.
- In 1832 John Howard Payne returned to the United States. Friends arranged a benefit concert to help him settle. Mr. Payne traveled with John J. Audubon (the naturalist and artist).
- He spent time with the Cherokees and, against his expectations, came to admire them. Mr. Payne was arrested by the Georgia authorities because his time with the Cherokees was “suspicious”, but when one of the soldiers sang “Home! Sweet Home!”, Mr. Payne mentioned that he is its author and officials released him.
- Much like Benjamin Franklin, Mr. Payne believed the Cherokee were one of the lost tribes of Israel.
- President John Tyler appointed Mr. Payne to be the American Consul in Tunis (today called Tunisia). This was also due to recommendations by Daniel Webster (Sec. of State) who loved “Home! Sweet Home!” and wanted to help Mr. Payne. In 1852 John Howard Payne died in Tunis, and is buried there to this day.
- The song, “Home!, Sweet home!” had a posthumous revival during the American Civil War when soldiers from the United States and their enemies from the Confederate States embraced it.
Zohar – Man of la Book
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