Phillis Wheatley Contribution

1114 Words 5 Pages
African Poetess

I wanted to start off this essay with a nuanced about Phillis Wheatley. About how she not only contributed to the Revolutionary period of U.S. history, but helped shape how it was founded. How through her strength of courage and belief of liberty and peace she able to gain her freedom. You know these things already, she is one of our Founding Mothers. She’s right up there with Abigail Adams, Martha Washington, Betsy Ross and Mum-Bet. So why am I writing this essay? Why do I give a damn about Phillis Wheatley? This essay will probably only be read by you, so why bother? Here’s my answer: I bother because she did. Phillis Wheatley cared so much about the rights, liberties, and freedom of those of her fellow slaves, her fellow
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Having been brought to the Massachusetts Colony without her permission when she was but a girl of 7 on “The Phillis, a slave ship that had traveled from an area near the Gambia in West Africa” (Casey, pg. 14). Bought by the Wheatley family, her true name was forgotten, and she was instead named Phillis Wheatley. Phillis for the ship, and Wheatley to match the Wheatley Family Surname. Her mistress Susanna Wheatley describes Phillis as, “frail, humble and modest demeanor and the interesting features of the little stranger” (Casey, pg. 14). Susanna Wheatley only intention on that hot summer day in Boston had been to select a young house servant to bring home, instead she unknowingly brought home the slave who would proclaim a revolution. Immediately taken with the girl, the Wheatley family was intrigued by Phillis intellect. “Without any assistance from school education and by only what she was taught in the family.” John Wheatley wrote of the young slave, “she, in the sixteen months’ time from her arrival, attained the English language…. To such a degree as to read any, the most difficult parts of the Sacred Writings, to the great astonishment of all who heard her” (Slavicek, pg. 100). It was at the age 16 when she wrote the poem on the death of Boston evangelist George Whitfield that brought attention to her talent as a poet. That noticed prompted Susanna Wheatley to act to have Phillis poems published. With the help of 18 prominent Bostonians such as Governor Thomas Hutchinson, Lieutenant Governor Andrew Oliver, and John Hancock as well as Selina Hastings, the Countess of Huntingdon, they agreed that Phillis was capable and believed her to be the author of her poems. Soon after Phillis leaves for London for the publication of her book. In May 13, 1773 the Massachusetts Gazette and the Boston Weekly News-Letter included the

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