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Word Count: 451
Slavery was the contradiction of the new nation that had stated that all men are created equal and have inalienable rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness Furthermore many of the countrys leaders believed that the African slaves were inferior to whites No one was familiar with the idea of slaves writing poetry since most slaves were not even allowed to learn to read and write Given the hardships of life in early America it is ironic that some of the best poetry was written by a very talented slave woman named Phillis Wheatley Phillis Wheatley was born in Africa and brought to Boston Massachusetts around the age of seven A wealthy tailor named Phillis Wheatley purchased her in order to be a companion for his wife As soon as the Wheatleys purchased her they realized that Phillis was very remarkable So they allowed her to stop working in order to spend most of her time studying The Wheatleys taught her English Christianity Latin and Ancient History With her Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral 1773 being published in England she became an international celebrity Wheatleys poem addressed To the Right Honorable William Earl of Dartmouth dealt with the slave issues In the poem she speaks about her experience of being snatched from Afric and her misery This as well as her other poems began a strong African American tradition in American poetry African American poetry retained its concern with the pertinent issues of the American Revolution including liberty independence equality and identity Moreover African American poetry expressed the African American experiences of divided loyalties Phillis Wheatleys poetic themes seem to be very religious and her style similar to that of Philip Freneau is neoclassical Her poem To SM a Young African Painter on Seeing His Works praised and encouraged other talented Africans This short poem also displayed her strong religious sensitivity filtered through her experience of Christian conversion The
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