Freneau, Philip Morin

Freneau, Philip Morin

(1752–1832) poet, journalist; born in New York City. A major early American poet, he won renown as "poet of the American Revolution" for his burning anti-British satires at the Revolution's outbreak. After a hiatus in the West Indies, where he wrote lyric verse with Romantic elements, he was captured by the British at sea and imprisoned under harsh conditions described in The British Prison-Ship (1781). He was a sea captain later in the 1780s and wrote some of his best verse, including The Hurricane and The Wild Honey Suckle. In a new phase of his life, Freneau became editor of the New York Daily Advertiser in 1789; then from 1791 to 1793, backed by Thomas Jefferson, he capably edited the fiercely democratic National Gazette, in rivalry with John Fenno's Federalist paper. In later years, his reputation besmirched by enemies, he earned a meager living as a sea captain, farmer, and tinker.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Freneau, Philip Morin


Born Jan. 2, 1752, in New York City; died Dec. 19, 1832, in Middletown Point, N. J. American poet and publicist.

Freneau graduated from Princeton University. His first collection, Poems, was published in 1786. A veteran of the American Revolution (1775–83), Freneau expressed in this collection a growing disenchantment with the results of the revolution. A classicistic writer, he became the first American preromantic poet. His political lyric poems “The House of Night” (1779) and “The British Prison-Ship” (1781) marked the beginning of 19th-century American democratic poetry.


The Poems, vols. 1–3. Princeton, N. J., 1902–07.
The Prose. New Brunswick, N. J., 1955.
In Russian translation:
“Sovet sochiniteliam.” In Estetika amerikanskogo romantizma. Moscow, 1977.


Istoriia amerikanskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.
Nikoliukin, A. N. Amerikanskii romantizm i sovremennost’. Moscow, 1968.
Marsh, P. M. Philip Freneau, Poet and Journalist. Minneapolis, 1967.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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