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Joel Barlow (1754–1812)

Author of The Columbiad: A Poem

18+ Works 81 Members 3 Reviews 1 Favorited

About the Author

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 show more 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. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Includes the name: Joel Barlow

Image credit: Courtesy of the NYPL Digital Gallery (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

Works by Joel Barlow

The Columbiad: A Poem (2005) 19 copies, 1 review
Political Writings (1972) 3 copies, 1 review

Associated Works

The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Volume 1 (1990) — Contributor, some editions — 256 copies
American Poetry: The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (2007) — Contributor — 203 copies
The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade [Norton Critical Edition, 2nd ed.] (2006) — Contributor — 182 copies, 2 reviews
American Religious Poems: An Anthology (2006) — Contributor — 164 copies, 2 reviews
American Literature: The Makers and the Making (In Two Volumes) (1973) — Contributor, some editions — 25 copies
Slavery in the Founding Era: Literary Contexts (2005) — Contributor — 15 copies


Common Knowledge



"I was doubting what you could say, equal to your own reputation, on so hackneyed a subject. but you have really risen out of it with lustre, and pointed to others a field of great expansion." - Thomas Jefferson to Joel Barlow, 8 Oct. 1809 [PTJ:RS 1:588-590]
ThomasJefferson | Jun 30, 2014 |
"I have safely recieved your favor from Amelia with the sheets of the Columbiad which it covered, and have given to them the hasty perusal which my less agreeable but more indispensable occupations have permitted ... the few moments I could spare to this object, I will say, were agreeably employed." - Thomas Jefferson to John Daly Burk, 21 Jun. 1801 [PTJ34:400-401]
ThomasJefferson | Jun 9, 2014 |
A reprint of Barlow's political writings. No mention of the Jefferson-Barlow translation issue. Of interest, if you enjoy French Revolution studies.
ThomasCWilliams | Mar 19, 2009 |


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