Hartford Wits

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The Hartford Wits were a group of young writers from Connecticut.

Originally the Connecticut Wits, this group formed in the late eighteenth century as a literary society at Yale College and then assumed a new name, the Hartford Wits. Their writings satirized an outmoded curriculum and, more significantly, society and the politics of the mid-1780s. Their dissatisfaction with the Articles of Confederation appeared in the “The Anarchiad” (1786–1787), written by David Humphreys, Joel Barlow, John Trumbull, and Lemuel Hopkins. In satirizing democratic society, this mock-epic promoted the federal union delineated by the 1787 Federal Convention at Philadelphia.[1]

Later careers[edit]

The Connecticut Wits eventually followed their interests in divergent directions. After The Anarchiad, Trumbull turned away from poetry and increasingly devoted his attention to law and politics. Barlow ultimately repudiated the Federalist politics of the Wits altogether. Timothy Dwight became president of Yale in 1795 and used his position as a platform from which to continue his attacks on the enemies of social order.[2]


  1. ^ Saillant, John. "Hartford Wits." Dictionary of American History. Ed. Stanley I. Kutler. 3rd ed. Vol. 4. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003. 101-102. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 7 May 2012.
  2. ^ "Poetry: The Connecticut Wits." American Eras. Vol. 4: Development of a Nation, 1783-1815. Detroit: Gale, 1997. 59-61. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 7 May 2012