Author: Joel Barlow

Joel Barlow, by Robert Fulton, 1805

Born in 1754 in Connecticut, Joel Barlow (17541812) began studying at Yale in 1778. His studies interrupted by the Revolutionary War, Barlow traveled to Europe, where he lived for the next seventeen years. During his time abroad, Barlow embraced a more radical political philosophy than his American contemporaries and became an ardent supporter of the French Revolution. He was able publish his works in America with help from important supporters like George Washington, who wrote that the poet was “considered by those who are good Judges to be a genius of the first magnitude; and to be one of those Bards who hold the keys of the gate by which Patriots, Sages and Heroes are admitted to immortality.”

Excerpt from The Columbiad

Joel Barlow

In 1807 the American poet, diplomat, businessman, and politician Joel Barlow (1754–1812) published an epic poem about Columbus, a more elaborate version of his earlier work The Vision of Columbus (1787). After reading this first poem, George Washington wrote to the Marquis de Lafayette about Barlow, declaring that the poet was “considered by those who are good Judges to be a genius of the first magnitude; and to be one of those Bards who hold the keys of the gate by which Patriots, Sages and Heroes are admitted to immortality.”