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Date

4-30-2020

Description

Dubbed the "Pen of the Revolution" by his contemporaries, John Dickinson is well noted as an influential writer of the American Revolution, particularly in his series of twelve letters known as the Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania. Previous scholarship has noted the significant effect these widely circulated letters had upon the colonies and has further explored the purpose for the pseudonym "Farmer," but has overlooked one major feature of the writings: the inclusion of a Latin quotation at the end of each letter, pulled from various Roman authors. Though the classics at that time were often employed in pamphlet writing to invoke a sense of kinship with the political ideology of the Roman Republic, particularly through the use of classical pseudonyms, Dickinson's choice to forgo the pseudonym in place of excerpts of Roman literature speaks to the unique purpose he had in mind when employing them. In my paper, I discuss the relevance of each of the quotations to the twelve letters, arguing that each passage is meant to provide a succinct expression of the various arguments made while simultaneously building for his readers the larger theme of history as a source of wisdom.

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Apr 30th, 12:00 AM

Happy the People: The Use of Classical Literature in John Dickinson's "Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania"

Dubbed the "Pen of the Revolution" by his contemporaries, John Dickinson is well noted as an influential writer of the American Revolution, particularly in his series of twelve letters known as the Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania. Previous scholarship has noted the significant effect these widely circulated letters had upon the colonies and has further explored the purpose for the pseudonym "Farmer," but has overlooked one major feature of the writings: the inclusion of a Latin quotation at the end of each letter, pulled from various Roman authors. Though the classics at that time were often employed in pamphlet writing to invoke a sense of kinship with the political ideology of the Roman Republic, particularly through the use of classical pseudonyms, Dickinson's choice to forgo the pseudonym in place of excerpts of Roman literature speaks to the unique purpose he had in mind when employing them. In my paper, I discuss the relevance of each of the quotations to the twelve letters, arguing that each passage is meant to provide a succinct expression of the various arguments made while simultaneously building for his readers the larger theme of history as a source of wisdom.