Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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FRENEAU, Philip, poet, born in New York City, 2 January 1752: died near Freehold, New Jersey, 18 December 1832. He was graduated at Princeton in 1771. Some of his published poems were written before he left College. He made a voyage to the Danish West Indies in 1776, and there wrote several of his longest poems. In 1778 he visited Bermuda, and on his return became a contributor to "The United States Magazine," edited by Hugh H. Brackenridge. On a second voyage in 1780 to the West Indies an English cruiser captured him, and his experiences as a prisoner are recorded in bitter terms in "The British Prison Ship." On regaining his liberty the next year, he wrote frequently in prose and verse for the "Freeman's Journal." After the close of the war he was variously employed as an editor, and master of a vessel in voyages to the West Indies and to the southern states until 1790, when he became editor of the New York "Daily Advertiser." Jefferson became interested in him, and appointed him translator for the state department, and at the same time Freneau assumed the editorship of the "National Gazette."
The violence of this paper's attacks on the Federalists aroused Hamilton's ire, who accused Freneau of being the pensioned tool of Jefferson, which compelled the latter to write an explanatory letter to Washington. Freneau's next newspaper undertaking was the "Jersey Chronicle," which he published for a short time at his residence, Mount. Pleasant, N.J. In 1797 he issued in New York the "Timepiece and Literary Companion," but his connection with it was brief. Between this time and his death in 1832 he seems to have done little of public interest. He lost his life from exposure, having got astray in a bog meadow on returning to his home from the village near which he lived. His first literary publication, "A Poem on the Rising Glory of America" (Philadelphia, 1771), was written for the College commencement. Brackenridge has been considered the joint author in this production, on the strength of a statement on the title page to Brackenridge's poem on "Divine Revelation," which reads: "By the same person.., who, September 25, 1771, delivered a small poem on 'The Rising Glory of America.'"
Freneau undoubtedly composed the poem, as he included it in his collected poems, published by himself at Monmouth, N.J. Brackenridge merely recited the piece at the commencement. Freneau published " Voyage to Boston," a poem (New York, 1774; reprinted in Philadelphia, 1775); "General Gage's Confession" (New York, 1775); "The British Prison Ship," a poem in four cantos (1781); "The Poems of Philip Freneau, written chiefly during the Late War" (1786; reprinted, with a preface by J. R. Smith, in London, 1861); "A Journey from Philadelphia to New York, by Robert Slender, Stockingweaver" (1787; republished in 1809, under the title "A Laughable Poem, or Robert Slender's Journey from Philadelphia to New York ");"The Miscellaneous Works of Mr. Philip Freneau" (1788); "The Village Merchant," a poem (1794); "Poems written between the Years 1768 and 1794" (1795 ; new ed., Monmouth, New Jersey, 1799); "Letters on Various Interesting and Important Subjects, by Robert Slender" (1799); "" Poems written and published during the American Revolutionary War" (1809); and " A Collection of Poems on American Affairs" (New York, 1815). Evert A. Duyckinck edited an edition of his " Poems of the American Revolution" (New York, 1865). Freneau also made a translation of Abbe Robins's "Voyages and Travels" (Philadelphia, 1783).
His brother, Peter Freneau, journalist, born in New Jersey in 1757 ; died in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1813, after completing his education, went to South Carolina, where he was elected secretary of state. About 1795 he became part proprietor of the Charleston "Gazette," which journal he edited with singular ability and fairness till 1810, when he sold out his interest. He then leased a sawmill and cottage at Pinckney's Ferry, and died of malaria contracted there.
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