American the Beautiful

Updated March 1, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

The Question:

Where was "America the Beautiful" written? My understanding is that it was written in Andover, Mass. A Phillips Academy dormitory is named "America House."

The Answer:

Katharine Lee Bates, the author of "America the Beautiful," lived in Falmouth, Mass., as a child and later moved to Wellesley, Mass., where she attended high school and college. She taught English Literature at Wellesley College from 1885 to 1925 and headed up the department for 29 years of her tenure.

Bates wrote a first draft of "America the Beautiful" in 1893 after a visit to Colorado's Pikes Peak. Of this experience she said, "When I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse." She was spending the summer lecturing at Colorado College.

Since Phillips Academy at Andover was an all-male school at the time, it is highly unlikely she wrote the poem there and much more likely that she wrote the final version of the poem in Wellesley, Mass., where she lived for 58 years.

-The Editors

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