Tobacco surely was designed to poison and destroy mankind

TEXT SIZE: A A A
Tobacco surely was designed?
To poison and destroy mankind
Philip Freneau (1752–1832)

This is the most famous excerpt from a poem by Philip Freneau. I don’t think I’m allowed to copy the whole poem here, but he was clearly ahead of his time in identifying (a) that tobacco, whether smoked or chewed is harmful to the body and (b) that it was very hard to give up once you have started (i.e. in modern language, addictive).

Freneau was quite an interesting man. His father was a French wine merchant and his mother was Scottish. He was raised in Monmouth County, New Jersey and attended Princeton University (then called College of New Jersey) in 1768. As a patriot, he was imprisoned by the British and both James Madison and Thomas Jefferson enlisted his help as an editor of various publications which aimed to further the cause of independence for the Americans from the British. He was never afraid to speak his mind and apparently became strongly disliked by people in power, including President George Washington, whose policies he had criticized.

He died at the age of 80, apparently freezing to death after trying to walk home from a tavern while drunk and getting lost in the forest. He and his family were buried in Matawan, New Jersey. The Matawan Post Office on Main Street, New Jersey, has a sculpture on the wall of Freneau. It features him with black slaves as he became strongly opposed to slavery later in life.
  • 1
Was this article helpful? Yes No
Advertisement

About the Author


MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.

Advertisement
Advertisement