Known as the poet of the American Revolution, Philip Freneau was influenced by both the political situation of his time and the full, active life he led. He attended Princeton University, where James Madison was his roommate, and planned to become a minister. However, at Princeton he became engaged in political debates with fellow students and pursued his interest in writing. Encouraged by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, Freneau established a newspaper, the National Gazette, which promoted Jefferson’s principles. By the early 1800s, Freneau had retired to his farm to write essays and poetry.
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"With a $20,000 prize, I never imagined POL being this much fun. The competitions were more about meeting and talking with the other competitors, having a great time and enjoying the poetry. I also never knew I could find so much in myself just from reciting poems."