After the American Revolution, Scottish immigrant James Swan entered the businesses of real estate and shipping. Becoming friends with many of the luminaries of the times, his businesses expanded to France, where he was accused of a two million franc debt owed to the government of Napoleon, perhaps in taxes, which he refused. Swan, although he could easily afford the payment, refused to pay 'on principle" and was committed to debtor prison. He spent the next twenty-two years of his life incarcerated, until released at age seventy-six.
Swan's imprisonment and its term is a matter of record, as is his use of apartments nearby for lavish parties given for his friends, but at which he was absent. His defiance was certainly notable. But what were the components of his 'principle?" And were they worth such severe observance?
'The Swan That Slept is a thoroughly compelling play.it is the perennial stuff of human courage and human weakness."
-Baron Wormser, Poet Laureate, State of Maine