Joel Barlow, American statesman and poet, early 19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Oil on panel portrait by Robert Fulton. Joel Barlow's (1754-1812) interests were broad, ranging from the philosophical to the republican, scientific, and propagandist. His epic poem 'The Vision of Columbus' sees the Spanish conquest of America as a prelude to American independence. He believed war must occur in the British North American colonies to establish an American empire, where arts and sciences could flourish in a free and confederated band of states. Barlow believed that North America was by right the inheritance of the new Americans.