Phillis Wheatley, poet

The poet Phillis Wheatley was only seven years old when she was brought to America from West Africa and sold as a slave to John and Susanna Wheatley in Boston. (Her first name is taken from the slave ship on which she arrived, the Phillis, and her last name is Wheatley, the surname of her master.) In a mere four years after she arrived, she not only learned to read and write English but also to write poetry. The Reverend Jeremy Belknap discovered a stanza written by Wheatley when he was doing research at the Massachusetts Historical Society; she was only eleven. It reads: “Mr[s] Thacher’s Son is gone/ Unto Salvation/ Her daughter too, so I conclude/ They are both gone to be renewed.”

The relevant page from Reverend Belknap’s diary can be found here.

posted April 22nd, 2013 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Boston, Slaves/slavery


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