The New York Times
2 March 1878


   Yesterday afternoon Commodore Joseph H. Tooker took his slave troupe over to the Island and gave the inmates of the asylum a treat to the songs and dances contained in the modern version of "Uncle Tom’s Cabin." The colored musicians were beyond count, full of song and merriment, and they gave these isolated, unfortunate creatures a treat that they will bear in mind as long as anything can be borne in mind by people who live behind strong bars, and pass the weary days under the eyes of ever-watchful keepers. The great hall of the building was arranged for a theatre, and in it, at 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon, were seated hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, indeed, of the inmates. The troupe, meanwhile, with Commodore Tooker at the head, made its way slowly but pleasantly over in the Commissioners' boat Bellevue, much to the wonder and amusement of the officers on the wharf, the attendants at the Morgue, and the few convalescent patients from the hospital who got out from the shadow of its great, gray walls, and drunk in new life and health under the sun by the river bank. All the celebrities of the colored stage were there. "The Four Jolly Coons," the merriest and jolliest of the many merry and jolly actors’ in Booth’s Theatre, set the lunatics into roars of laughter and wild contortions that did them more real good than all the drugs that are shelved away in the hospital, or in its twin sister over the way. Horace Weston, the banjoist, set half the house to dancing, the other half, of course, keeping time with their feet. The little darkey boy and girl dancers, and the plantation set, and the cotton-pickers, and the slave-driver, were all new to this strange audience; and if the four thick walls that keep these people shut in from all the world will let so substantial a thing as a blessing pass through, many will be the blessings, and hearty and true, that will shower upon the accommodating slave troupe for many a day to come.