On Being Brought from Africa to America by Phillis Wheatley

On Being Brought from Africa to America
1773

‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
“Their colour is a diabolic die.”
Remember, Christians, Negro’s, black as Cain,
May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train

Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley
Born: 8 May 1753, West Africa
Nationality: African-American
Died: 5 December 1784, Massachusetts, USA

Wheatley was the first African-American author of a book of poetry. She was born in West Africa, sold into slavery, and transported to North America at the age of seven or eight. Purchased by the Wheatley family, they taught her to read and write, encouraging her poetic talent. On a trip to London with her master’s son in 1773, she was aided in meeting prominent people who became her patrons. The publication of her ‘Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral’ brought her fame in England and the American colonies. Wheatley was emancipated shortly after the publication. She married around 1778 and had three children, two died in infancy. Her husband was imprisoned for debt in 1784 and Wheatley fell into working poverty and died of a resulting illness. Her last son died soon after

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