The Vision of Columbus: A Poem, in Nine Books

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C. Dilly & J. Stockdale, 1787 - America - 244 pages

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About the author (1787)

Joel Barlow was born on a Connecticut farm, in 1754. He was educated at Dartmouth College and then Yale University. He was a member of The Connecticut Wits, a group of nine ambitious young writers determined to celebrate as well as satirize the young American democracy. Timothy Dwight and John Trumbul, two other famous members of the group, pursued their satiric inclinations until they became conservative Federalists in the face of Jeffersonian republicanism. Barlow went to Europe where he stayed for seventeen years. There, he became a passionate supporter of the French Revolution and saw to the publication of The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine. While running for election as a deputy to the French National Assembly, Barlow wrote his best-known poem, the mock epic The Hasty Pudding, which brought him celebrity in his native land. When he returned to the United States in 1805, he turned away from his ponderous epic The Columbiad (1807), in which he celebrated the future of the United States in the context of deploring the European past. As a reward for his support of Jeffersonianism, President James Madison appointed him minister to France. Barlow followed Napoleon to Poland in an effort to persuade the emperor to favor U.S. commerce; however, Barlow narrowly missed Napoleon, who was returning to Europe with his defeated army. When Barlow was making his own return, he caught pneumonia and died. He was buried in a village near Cracow, Poland. Barlow is significant for his understanding that the American experience-and its translation into literature and the culture at large-was important in its own right, distinct from European history and aesthetics. His poetry, essays, and orations are infused with his witty perception of the colonialist's mission.

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