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Yale and the Revolution: a poet with Washington on his side

Perhaps the most consequential Yale alumnus in the Revolution was David Humphreys, Class of 1771, who joined the Continental Army in 1776. He took part in a successful raid on Sag Harbor in 1777 and came to the attention of George Washington, who made him his aide-de-camp in 1780. Humphreys brought the surrendered British colors—and news of the American victory—to Congress from the Battle of Yorktown. Among many other interests and accomplishments, he is thought to be the first American to write a sonnet. His first effort, in 1776, was titled, “Addressed to my Friends at Yale College, on my Leaving them to join the Army.”

Filed under David Humphreys, American Revolution
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