How Anti-Spanish Bias Justified 19th-Century American Expansionism

Poet-Politician Joel Barlow Personified an Ideology Borne of Religious Antipathy and Economic Rivalry

No sooner had the U.S. Revolution ended than U.S. expansionists began looking south and southwest toward lands controlled by Spain.

The personification of this complicated project was the American poet-politician Joel Barlow. As a poet, he worked on creating public sentiment to annex Spanish lands, and, wearing his political hat, he pursued that agenda. Barlow is largely a forgotten figure today, but the myths he helped create remain with us.

Barlow was the likely author of the 1792 manuscript “Plan proposé pour faire une revolution dans la Louisiane” (“Proposal to …

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