Phillis Wheatley holds the accomplishment of being the first published African American writer. Her story is very different from the other published African American writers. Unlike most of the writers to follow her she was not born into slavery and she is not of a mixed race. Phillis Wheatley was abducted from her parents and her home in West Africa when she was around seven years old, she was named for the slave ship The Phillis that delivered her into slavery. I was surprised to learn Phillis Wheatley viewed slavery as an opportunity rather than a cruel and dehumanizing system. Her works differ from the writers to follow because she does not openly discourage slavery.
As a child Phillis showed that she had a great aptitude, her owners took an interest in her education and began to teacher her to read and write. She was a fast learner and soon began to study Latin and literature. Her early education is reflected in her complex works, even at a young age she mimic Pope and Milton in her writing style. Her first poem was published when she was just twelve years old. Her writings shocked white America and spoke for itself. Although she did not advocate for the freedom of her people. She had laid the ground work in displaying that African American were just as capable and in her case more of being as intelligent as anyone else. Wheatley’s works began to become more noticed. However publishers refused to acknowledge Wheatley and denied that she had actually written her own poems. Wheatley’s case went to trial to eventually and she eventually received credit for her writing. Although she finally received the credit she was unable to find a publisher who would publish her works in America.
One of her works “Coming to American from Africa ” a poem that she is famous for and that speaks reflects her opinion of slavery and the plight of her people.
"Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,