On October 18, 1773, Phillis Wheatley is freed from slavery. She was the first African-American poet and book publisher. During her time, she was one of the best known poets in America. It is estimated when she was seven when she was seized from modern day Senegal and forced into slavery. She was reportedly bought for little money as her slaver believed she would die soon when he brought her to America.
The Wheatley’s gave her a reluctant sort of freedom. She was given the education and opportunities that allowed her to exercise and publicly show her poetic genius. She was not given the same terrible demands of slavery experienced by most African Americans. However, she was still kept as a separate part of the household and not kept from the obligations of a household slave. Phillis was still a slave when she was brought to England with her master and was celebrated for her poetic achievements there.
There is some dispute whether October 18 could be attributed to the date of her freedom. The connection appears rooted in a letter Wheatley wrote to Col. David Wooster of New Haven, Connecticut. In the letter, she recounts her visit to England and sales of her book, Poems on Various Subjects, and John Wheatley setting her free.
Since my return to America my Master, has at the desire of my friends inPhillis Wheatley, a letter to Col. David Wooster, Boston, October 18, 1773
England given me my freedom.
Book Title: The Collected Works of Phillis Wheatley
Book Author: Phillis Wheatley
Dewey Decimal Call Number: 881 W 1988
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