Ancestors on Mission: Phillis Wheatley

Published March 5, 2017 by zuzusays

“…but I would have him draw back in time, and not plunge too deep into a subject whose bottom his short line of understanding can never fathom.” What a lovely way to put someone in their place.

WE PERSEVERE: A Blog on theology and global religious freedom

Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753 – 1784), widely known for her poetry, and as first African American woman published in pre-Revolutionary America, was also a notable apologist, abolitionist and missionary.

Her journey to these shores was cruel and traumatic. In 1721, slave trader Playten Onely requests that the Royal African Company capture “500 Small Slaves, Male and Female, from 6 to 10 years old, to be delivered annually” aboard the slave ship Kent. This legislation, allowing for the capture and sale of African children in the New World will introduce scores of children into these pestilent and unjust conditions; they will be stuffed like afterthoughts into the smallest and most suffocating areas of the slave ship’s ‘hold’, in whichever way they will fit.

After being kidnapped from Senegambia, West Africa under this legislation at the age of 7, Phillis was purchased at auction by the Wheatley household, given the name of…

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