Hartford Wits

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HARTFORD WITS. 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. After the ratification of the Constitution, most of the Wits, including Timothy Dwight, became Federalist spokesmen for order and stability. Barlow, however, became a radical Republican. From a common origin, the Wits ultimately took up positions across the early Republic's ideological spectrum.


Elliott, Emory. Revolutionary Writers: Literature and Authority in the New Republic, 1725–1810. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Howard, Leon. The Connecticut Wits. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1943.


See alsoArticles of Confederation ; Federalist Party ; Yale University .