Phillis Wheatley Historical

Phillis Wheatley Historical (HM1USH)

Location: Newport News, VA 23607
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Country: United States of America
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N 36° 59.209', W 76° 24.733'

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Slave Poet of Colonial America

Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753-1784) was America's first black published poet. Born in Africa, she was brought to Boston in 1861 and sold to merchant John Wheatley as a servant for his wife. Phillis was tutored by her progressive owners and received an unprecedented education. By the age of twelve, she was reading Greek and Latin classics as well as difficult passages from the Bible. At thirteen, she wrote her first poem and became a sensation. Amazed by her literary ability, the Wheatley family exempted her from household labor to concentrate on her studies.

In 1773, she was sent to London to recover her health. While there, a collection of her work was published as Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, the first book by an African American. Her 1775 poem celebrating George Washington resulted in an invitation to his home and attention from Thomas Jefferson. As a strong supporter of independence during the American Revolution, she championed the end of slavery. In 1778, Wheatley was legally freed by her master's will. She died in 1784, at age 31. Phillis Wheatley is highly regarded today as she marks the beginning of the genre of African American literature.

(Inscription under the image in the upper right) Since 1942, the Phillis Wheatley branch of the YWCA has been a staple in the East End community. It began operations
in the Women's Community House at 842 Hampton Avenue. In 1948, an expanded center at 2702 Orcutt Avenue was dedicated. Destroyed by fire in 1961, it was rebuilt after a rousing fund drive at a cost of $60,000. The YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 2nd, 2016 at 5:02pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 374321 N 4094341
Decimal Degrees36.98681667, -76.41221667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 36° 59.209', W 76° 24.733'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds36° 59' 12.54" N, 76° 24' 43.98" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)804, 757
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 2702 Orcutt Ave, Newport News VA 23607, US
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