Addison’s “Cato” Performed at Harvard

in about Warren

Date: 1758

Author: Nathaniel Ames

July 3, 1758 “Cato a Play acted at [Joseph] Warren’s Chamber”

July 6, 1758 “Cato to Perfection”

July 14, 1758 “Cato more perfect than before.”


Nathaniel Ames’ Diary (extracts), manuscript, Dedham Historical Society, Massachusetts

Ames, Nathaniel. “Year of a College Student’s Life.” In American History Told by Contemporaries, Vol II. Building of the Republic 1689-1783. New York: MacMillan Company, 1898, p. 269.

Hanson, Robert Brand ed., and Nathaniel Ames. The Diary of Dr. Nathaniel Ames of Dedham, Massachusetts, 1758-1822. 2 vols. Camden, Maine, Picton Press, 1998.

Commentary: Nathaniel Ames III was a physician, inn keeper, almanac author, and fellow Harvard alumnus of Joseph Warren’s. Ames’ diary is a rare written record of Harvard student life in the mid-18th century. Ames documented several performances, presumably by and for fellow students, of the popular historical play Cato. Performances occurred in Joseph Warren’s room at Massachusetts Hall. Warren’s roles in production and acting were not unspecified.

Cato was an influential play in 18th century Colonial America. It extolled virtuous and actively involved citizenship in the face of Julius Caesar’s tyranny. See related entry with quotes from the play.

Nathaniel Ames figures in Warren’s later political and personal lives. Like Warren, Ames was a physician activist advocating Massachusetts province licensing of physicians as an antidote to quackery circa 1767. His inn was a focal point for the Suffolk Convention during late August and early September 1774. He provided sanctuary and medical services to Joseph Warren’s “fair incognita pregnans” beginning in April 1775.

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