Joel Barlow (bär´lō), 1754–1812, American writer and diplomat, b. Redding, Conn., grad. Yale, 1778. He was one of the Connecticut Wits and a major contributor to their satirical poem The Anarchiad (1786–87). His own epic, The Vision of Columbus (1787), brought him fame in America and Europe and was revised later as The Columbiad (1807). Inspired by his friend Thomas Paine, he wrote Advice to the Privileged Orders (1792), urging that the state must represent not a class but the people and must be responsible for the welfare of the individual. His Letter to the National Convention of France on the Defects in the Constitution of 1791 won him French citizenship. His best-known lighter work is a mock eulogy, The Hasty-Pudding (1796). Appointed U.S. consul to Algiers in 1795, Barlow succeeded in releasing many American prisoners and in negotiating treaties with Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. Sent to Europe in 1811 to negotiate a commercial treaty with Napoleon I, he was caught in the disastrous retreat of the armies from Moscow and died from exposure.
See biography by R. Buel, Jr. (2011); study by A. L. Ford (1971).