Phillis Wheatley: the Main Lines of a Poem

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“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, Negros, black as Cain, May be refin’d, and join angelic train.” This is Phillis Wheatley’s poem on being brought from Africa. This inspiring woman made a huge impact on the Revolutionary War. 

She was able to accomplish this because she was influenced by her owners, who taught her everything she knew. She was also influenced by General Washington because Phillis thought that he was inspiring in how brave he was to come and try to win the war. She wrote inspiring poems, which allowed her to make a large impact on the Revolutionary war. With her poems she inspired the soldiers to battle in the war and win. Phillis Wheatley was the most valuable and significant women during the Revolutionary War, because her poems inspired the Patriot soldiers to fight and to win. She was a fantastic role model, and cherished writing. Phillis was extremely inspiring in so many ways. She fought through being a slave but continued to pursue her dream. Wheatley truly is the most important and valuable woman during the Revolutionary War.

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The period between 1660 and 1785 was an amazing time for Great Britan, or for England. During this time period they both expanded territories drastically after an Act of Union in 1707 joined Scotland to England and Wales. Through this Britain became a world power, and is known globally as the empire on which the sun never set. Even though it changed drastically on the outside, but it also changed internally. The expansion and growth of the empire led to a sense of new expanding possibilities. Modern problems transformed the daily life of the British people, and offered them fresh ways of thinking about their relations to nature and to each other. 

Britain’s evolution required literature to adapt to circumstances for which there was no precedent. A change that is still in effect today was a shift in population from the country to the town. The feeling that everything was changing was also sparked by a revolution in science. In earlier periods, the universe had often seemed a small place, less than six thousand years old, where a single sun moved about the earth. Now time and space exploded, the microscope and telescope opened new fields of vision. In the eighteenth century, the expansion of the British into an empire was almost solely fueled by slavery and the slave trade. This was a source of profit that gave a false impression of the national self-image as a haven of liberty and turned British people against one another. The modern world invented by the eighteenth century brought suffering along with progress.

While globally the world was booming the United States also was having its own successes. The United States in the eighteenth century was experiencing what is referred to as The Great Awakening. This Great Awakening was the dramatic birth of an independent republic, and characterized America. Before The Great awakening the thirteen English colonies were very separate, and the Great Awakening provided them with their first common experience. Through this experience the colonies evolved a democratic political structure. Further down the road in the years 1763-1783 the Revolutionary War was taking place in the thirteen colonies.

The Revolutionary War originally began in Massachusetts, but the majority of the battles took place in New York, New Jersey, and South Carolina. This all started out as a colonial revolt against the mercantile and economic policies of the British Empire and the Britsh North America. Years of growing tension between the colonists and the British government eventually lead to the revolt. Tensions were caused by the governments multiple attempts to assert more control over colonial affairs, specifically over trade and commerce. Eventually this war came to an end with the Treaty of Paris of 1783.

Even with these circumstances Phillis Wheatley still was able to make a difference, most likely due to her circumstances of her childhood. She was born on May 8, 1753, in Gambia, Africa. When Phillis was only eight years old she was kidnapped from her home and shipped across the Atlantic on a slave ship to Boston, Massachusetts in 1761. From there she was sold off in an auction to John Wheatley with intention of giving his wife a personal servant. However, Mary Wheatley, their eighteen year old daughter taught Phillis how to read and write. Wheatley also received lessons on theology, English, Latin, Greek, Ancient History, mythology, and literature. At the age of twelve, she published her first poem and book, which made her the first African American woman to publish a book.

Growing up she was a very talented poet and learned to read and write with Mr. and Mrs. Wheatley’s children. In 1773, Phillis gained tremendous popularity after publishing her book of verse, Poems on Various Subjects. With this publication she was not only the first slave to publish a book of poems, but only the third American woman to do so. As a strong supporter of America’s fight for independence, she wanted everyone to hope for the militia. Phillis Wheatley wrote poems to influence the Patriots and George Washington during the Revolutionary War. A lot of things happened to spark the war especially the taxes. 

The sugar act, The Stamp act, The Tea act, Townshend act, and Declaratory act all put upon the colonists with the intent of suppressing the colonists. With this the colonists grew furious because their rights were stripped. Along with the colonist, the slaves were equally as angry at Britain. The difference was the slaves were not mad about the taxes, but rather the slave trade.They all hated the slave trade because they were traded for Rum with the colonies. On the way to the colonies the slaves passed through the triangular trade. 

The triangular trade is a bunch of routes forming a triangle. All of the countries were involved with it, by getting wood, iron, and weapons. Ms. Wheatley wrote poems to impact the colonists in a way that everyone gained hope. Even with her influencing words people joined the militia because they had hope for the Patriots. Even the other colonies came together as one because of her words. Her poems tied in with her words but they did more than just that. Specifically the poem she sent to George Washington really encouraged him because it caused him to feel good about the war, which in turn made him do better.

Later in life Phillis Wheatley began traveling in hopes of promoting her poetry globally. However, when in London she received medical treatment for a health ailment she had been fighting against. Phillis would eventually return to Boston as a free slave. This was bittersweet however because she returned to mourn the death of her former owners Susanna and John Wheatley, who allowed her to be educated and have an impact on society. In 1778, Phillis married a freed slave from Boston, John Peters, with who she had three children, all three died in infancy. 

The loss of their children was just one of many struggles they faced because they were constantly in poverty. The caused Phillis to be forced to work as a maid and live in a squalid. Even though Wheatley still attempted to continue her writing,Wheatley did continue to write, but never was successful due to the stress of the war and lack of enthusiasm. Phillis Wheatley later died in her early 30s in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 5, 1784.

Phillis Wheatly impacts can still be seen by today’s society. Not only because of her important contribution to American literature, but Phillis’s literary and artistic talents helped show that African Americans were equally capable, creative, intelligent human beings who benefited from an education. This case was one of the first examples that not only women could accomplish great successes when educated, but African American woman could achieve just as great successes.In part, eventually helped the cause of the abolition movement. It is safe to say that Phillis Wheatley was one of the most key and valuable people in the eighteenth century, especially the Revolutionary war. Without the constant and persistent encouragement to the militia, the outcome of the war could have been completely different. Which would change the world how we know it. 

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