Skip to main content

Family Pride

March 2023
1min read

Recognition and praise come so seldom to the one illustrious member of my family that I hasten to salute and thank Bernard A. Weisberger and American Heritage for the delightful piece on the hostage rescue of 1796 (“In the News,” February). At the risk of sounding like an ingrate, I must point to a few mistakes and misconceptions in Mr. Weisberger’s otherwise very fair and scholarly chronicle of Joel Barlow’s exceedingly hazardous and successful mission.

Barlow was not a “failed lawyer.” After practicing successfully for two years, he concluded (as many lawyers have) that he could use the law to best advantage in the business world. As a lawyer who was tempted many times to do the same in my forty-four years of practice in Washington, D.C., I have to admire his courage and perspicacity. Barlow was also more than a “would-be poet.” Not all of his ‘Verses are pretty awful to a modern ear.” His “Hasty Pudding” poem, for one, has been praised by generations of American literary critics and in this century by Van Wyck Brooks. Finally, the Barlow-Jefferson correspondence in the Huntington Library reveals that it was none other than Joel Barlow himself who implored Jefferson to put an end to the shameful policy of appeasement, and to the necessity for embarrassing and dangerous missions such as the one Mr. Weisberger chronicles so well.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "April 1990"

Authored by: John McDonough

It is to the U.S. Air Force what Normandy is to the U.S. Army. The monuments are harder to find, but if you’re willing to leave the main roads, you will discover a countryside still eloquent of one of the greatest military efforts in history.

Authored by: The Editors

Women Who Opened the West

Authored by: Lawrence Block

A novelist turned compulsive traveler tracks a peculiar quarry all across America

Authored by: Walter Karp

When Pierre S. du Pont bought the deteriorated Longwood Gardens in 1906, he thought that owning property was a sign of mental derangement. Still, he worked hard to create a stupendous fantasy garden, a place, he said, “where I can entertain my friends.”

Authored by: Bill Merrell

The author leads a search for hidden treasure in the amazingly complete documentary history of a California ghost town

Authored by: Thomas Fleming

A novelist and historian takes us on a tour of the Academy at Annapolis, where American history encompasses the history of the world.

Featured Articles

Rarely has the full story been told about how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

The world’s most prominent actress risked her career by standing up to one of Hollywood’s mega-studios, proving that behind the beauty was also a very savvy businesswoman. 

Often thought to have been a weak president, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or the political fallout.

Why have thousands of U.S. banks failed over the years? The answers are in our history and politics.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.