Freneau, Philip

Freneau, Philip (1752-1832) Poet: Born in New York City, on January 2, 1752; Philip Freneau graduated from the College of New Jersey (later called Princeton) in 1771. While still in college, he published some poetry. In 1776, he traveled to the Danish West Indies, where he wrote several of his longest poems. After visiting Bermuda in 1778, he returned to North American and began writing for "The United States Magazine." He traveled to the West Indies gain in 1780, but was captured by an English cruiser. Freneau bitterly recorded his experiences in the poem, "The British Prison-Ship." When he was freed the nest year, he frequently made submissions of poetry and prose to the "Freeman's Journal." After the Revolutionary War, he found work as an editor; and as a master of a vessel in voyages to the West Indies and the southern states. In 1790, he became editor of the New York "Daily Advertiser." Thomas Jefferson learned of him, and appointed him translator for the State Department, while Freneau also became editor of the "National Gazette." Freneau's violent attacks on the Federalists angered Alexander Hamilton, the major Federalist leader. Hamilton accused Freneau of being Jefferson's tool, so Jefferson wrote an explanation to President Washington. Freneau began publishing the "Jersey Chronicle" from his home in Mount Pleasant, New Jersey. This venture lasted a short time, as did his 1797 issuing of the New York "Time-piece and Literary Companion." He lived the rest of his life in relative obscurity. He died on December 18, 1832, near Freehold, New Jersey, as a result of exposure. Although he was certainly not the first important American poet, Freneau is believed to be the first whose work was of major literary significance.