Revolutionary African-American Poet: Phillis Wheatley

One of the pioneering African-american poet and writer

By Josh Manus, Staff Writer

Born in 1753, Phillis Wheatley, led a peaceful life in West Africa and was sold into slavery at the age of seven. She arrived in Boston on a slave ship and was sold to John Wheatley as a servant for his wife, Susana. As a servant, Wheatley was taken under Susana’s wing. She taught Phillis to read and write alongside her two children.

Later in her life, she primarily worked as a poet in many different areas such as moral or religious. As a poet, she received praise from many renowned figures such as George Washington and poet Jupiter Hammon. While she was a writer she wrote a book and had it published.

Once she was set free, she married in 1778 and had three children. Unfortunately, two of her children would die as infants. After two of her children died her husband was imprisoned for debt in 1784. Before she could find a real job her family fell into poverty and she died shortly before her last surviving child in December 1784.

This is not where her story ends, during her lifetime she was honored by the great John Paul Jones and many of the founding fathers of the United States. As she lived she was one of the most famous African-American poets of her time.

Today in our society she is forgotten unless your looking for her name. Most history professors skip over her and focus on the time period she lived in as that is the more famous subjects in American history. Her legacy is not totally forgotten as a library in Jenson Beach, Florida is home to the first literary service to African-Americans and their ancestors today.