Inventing an American Language and Literature
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A Poem on the Rising Glory of America was delivered at commencement at the College of New Jersey (later called Princeton) in September 1771 by two young graduates, Philip Freneau (1752–1832) and Hugh Henry Brackenridge (1748–1816). In later years, Freneau would win fame as the “Poet of the Revolution” and as a central figure in the Jeffersonian Republican party; Brackenridge would become a lawyer, legislator, justice of the supreme court of Pennsylvania, and author. Their appreciative audience included John Witherspoon, the president of the college and a future signer of the Declaration of Independence. Their classmate James Madison missed commencement due to poor health. Published in 1772 in Philadelphia, the poem was also well received in other colleges and colonies.
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