It may be simply an interesting fact that the editor of one of the first illustrated American Shakespeare editions was also a former four-term congressman, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and an unsuccessful candidate for New York City mayor. But Gulian Verplanck (1786–1870) is far from the only connection between Shakespeare and American politics. To this day, congressmen, presidents, and other politicians like to use memorable phrases from Shakespeare’s plays, as do political commentators and critics.
Shakespeare’s themes of politics, power, and leadership tend to attract politically minded audiences to the theater, too. The Washington, DC, region has had three active Shakespeare companies for several years, and the city is spending much of 2007 celebrating the Bard. Nor is it a coincidence that Folger Shakespeare Library is located on Capitol Hill, a block from the Capitol. Even though the Folgers lived in New York, they chose to place their Shakespeare library at the heart of the capital city, rather than the economic and cultural center of New York .