Author: Timothy Dwight IV

Timothy Dwight IV, portrait by John Trumbull

Born to a prominent Massachusetts family in 1752, Timothy Dwight IV was a Congregationalist minister who would serve as Yale’s eighth president between 1795 and his death in 1817. The grandson of the fiery Congregationalist preacher Jonathan Edwards, Dwight received a classical education at home and entered Yale at thirteen. Many of Dwight’s theological writings in the 1770s supported the revolutionary cause and elevated him to the highest rank within Connecticut’s revolutionary circles. Dwight’s 1785 poem The Conquest of Canaan is considered to be the first American epic poem.

Ode to Columbia

Timothy Dwight IV

This song was composed in 1777 by Reverend Timothy Dwight (1752–1817), a Congregationalist minister, theologian, and eighth president of Yale University. He came of age during the heady days of the American Revolution, and this song, popular with the soldiers of the Revolution, was written while he was a chaplain with the Revolutionary Army. Although it does not mention the name of Columbus, it attributes to the land named after him—and, thus, to his legacy—all the possible virtues and successes expected from the New World he discovered.