What is some background information on the Phyllis Wheatley poem, "To His Excellency General Washington"?

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mstokes's profile pic

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Phillis Wheatley was born in Senegal, Africa, in 1753. She was kidnapped at the age of eight and sent on a slave ship to Boston. Purchased by a prosperous Boston tailor, John Wheatley, she was trained as a personal servant for John's wife, Susannah.

When she was only thirteen years old, Phillis wrote her first poetic verses; and then three years later, being an admirer of the celebrated Rev. George Whitefield, she authored a special poem about his life. This early interest in poetry continued for the rest of her life, and today Phillis is known as America's first Black female poet.

One poem was about George Washington, then the leader of the Patriot Army. She even got to read the poem to him in person. In 1775, while still abroad, and while the siege of Boston was underway in America, Phillis wrote a letter to the new Commander-in-Chief, General Washington, containing a special poem she had written for him:

His Excellency George Washington . . . Thee, first in place and honors, - we demand The grace and glory of thy martial band Fam'd for thy valor, for thy virtues more, Here every tongue thy guardian aid implore! . . . Proceed, great chief, with virtue on thy side, Thy every action let the goddess guide. A crown, a mansion, and a throne that shine, With gold unfading, Washington, be thine. . . .

Washington was touched by the poem; and when Phillis returned to America, Washington invited her to his military camp at Cambridge to honour her before his staff.

The poem is called "To his excellency General Washington"


brittanyfitz's profile pic

Posted on

i have to write about this poem now.... it suckss and have  20 MIN presentation on him too

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