Before the play began, Lizzie witnessed four drunk men attempt to throw two African Americans from a train. When they defended themselves one of the attackers, Thomas, pulled a gun and killed one of the men. The other victim managed to escape but was being perused because the men claimed that he had raped Lizzie and they were merely defending her. These men held high esteem in town and were either related to or friends with every man of power resented in the play. In Scene One police make their way into Lizzie’s apartment with no warrant. The prostitute promises to remain truthful as they attempt to get her to sign their false statement. In the last part of this scene they bring in the uncle of the murderer, the Senator, to pressure her more. He first pretends that he understands her and will leave her be, but he is truly manipulative. He pumps her with patriotic images of Uncle Sam and Thomas’ sad white haired mother. She finds herself sympathetic to the image of this woman and hopes to seek her approval by freeing her son.
THE SENATOR: Look at me, Lizzie. Do you have confidence in me?
LIZZIE: Yes, Senator.
THE SENATOR: Do you believe that I would urge you to do any-thing wrong?
LIZZIE: No, Senator.
THE SENATOR: Then I urge you to sign. Here is my pen.
LIZZIE: You think she'll be pleased with me?
THE SENATOR: Who?
LIZZIE: Your sister.
THE SENATOR: She will love you, from a distance, as her very own child.
LIZZIE: Perhaps she'll send me some flowers?
THE SENATOR: Very likely.
LIZZIE: Or her picture with an inscription.
THE SENATOR: It's quite possible.
LIZZIE: I'd hang it on the wall. [A pause. She walks up and down, much agitated.] What a mess! [Coming up to THE SENATOR again] What will you do to the nigger if I sign?
THE SENATOR: To the nigger? Pooh! [He takes her by the shoulders.] If you sign, the whole town will adopt you. The whole town. All the mothers in it.
LIZZIE: But —
THE SENATOR: Do you suppose that a whole town could be mistaken? A whole town, with its ministers and its priests, its doctors, its lawyers, its artists, its mayor and his aides, with all its charities? Do you think that could happen?
LIZZIE: No, no, no.
THE SENATOR. Give me your hand. [He forces her to sign.] So now it's done. I thank you in the name of my sister and my nephew, in the name of the seventeen thousand white in-habitants of our town, in the name of the American people, whom I represent in these parts. Give me your forehead, my child. [He kisses her on the forehead.] Come along, boys. [To LIZZE] I shall see you later in the evening; we still have something to talk about. [He goes out.]
LIZZIE: Good-by. [They all go out. She stands there overwhelmed, then rushes to the door.] Senator! Senator! I don't want to sign! Tear up the paper! Senator! [She comes back to the front of the stage and mechanically takes hold of the vacuum cleaner.] Uncle Sam! [She turns on the sweeper.] Something tells me I've been had—but good! [She pushes the vacuum cleaner furiously.]