Phillis Wheatley was the first African American to publish and the first American woman to try to support herself through her writing.
After learning to speak, read, and write English with remarkable ease, Phillis Wheatley began to compose poetry, and the verse that made her reputation was an elegy for George Whitefield, a Methodist minister whom Phillis Wheatley had seen preach in Boston shortly before his death in 1770.
Her elegy, reprinted throughout the colonies and in London, earned her international fame.
As a female African American poet, she captured much attention, and her only published volume, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, appeared in 1773 with a foreword attesting to her talent signed by eighteen prominent Bostonian men and a portrait of the author sitting at her writing table with a pen in hand.
Regarding slavery, she wrote in a letter in 1774 that “in every human breast, God has implanted a Principle, which we call Love of Freedom; it is impatient of Oppression, and pants for Deliverance.”
She supported the American Revolution and admired political figures such as George Washington, with whom she corresponded.
A question from the audience came about Phillis Wheatley, who had been enslaved when she was 8 years old but was purchased by a Boston family and made a part of their family. She wrote a poem called “To his Excellency General Washington,” and Washington invited her to his home as thanks for the poem.
Unfortunately the revisionists have fairly successfully darkened the reputation not only of the men of the revolution, but the women as well, replacing them with “heroes” like the racist eugenicist Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood.
It’s time we pushed ourselves away from the foul table of revisionism and came to terms with our American history–both the great successes and the failures. Because for all our failures, ours is still the most noble, inspiring history in all the world.
To His Excellency, General Washington
By Phillis Wheatley
Celestial choir! enthron’d in realms of light,
Columbia’s scenes of glorious toils I write.
While freedom’s cause her anxious breast alarms,
She flashes dreadful in refulgent arms.
See mother earth her offspring’s fate bemoan,
And nations gaze at scenes before unknown!
See the bright beams of heaven’s revolving light
Involved in sorrows and veil of night!
The goddess comes, she moves divinely fair,
Olive and laurel bind her golden hair:
Wherever shines this native of the skies,
Unnumber’d charms and recent graces rise.
Muse! bow propitious while my pen relates
How pour her armies through a thousand gates,
As when Eolus heaven’s fair face deforms,
Enwrapp’d in tempest and a night of storms;
Astonish’d ocean feels the wild uproar,
The refluent surges beat the sounding shore;
Or thick as leaves in Autumn’s golden reign,
Such, and so many, moves the warrior’s train.
In bright array they seek the work of war,
Where high unfurl’d the ensign waves in air.
Shall I to Washington their praise recite?
Enough thou know’st them in the fields of fight.
Thee, first in peace and honours,—we demand
The grace and glory of thy martial band.
Fam’d for thy valour, for thy virtues more,
Hear every tongue thy guardian aid implore!
One century scarce perform’d its destined round,
When Gallic powers Columbia’s fury found;
And so may you, whoever dares disgrace
The land of freedom’s heaven-defended race!
Fix’d are the eyes of nations on the scales,
For in their hopes Columbia’s arm prevails.
Anon Britannia droops the pensive head,
While round increase the rising hills of dead.
Ah! cruel blindness to Columbia’s state!
Lament thy thirst of boundless power too late.
Proceed, great chief, with virtue on thy side,
Thy ev’ry action let the goddess guide.
A crown, a mansion, and a throne that shine,
With gold unfading, WASHINGTON! be thine.
Drawing of Nancy Ward by George Catlin
Nancy Ward: Beloved Woman of the Cherokee
Nanye-hi (ᎾᏅᏰᎯ: “One who goes about”), known in English as Nancy Ward (c. 1738–1822 or 1824) was a ghigau, or beloved woman of the Cherokee nation, which meant that she was allowed to sit in councils and to make decisions, along with the other Beloved Women, on pardons. She believed in peaceful coexistence with white people.
Nancy Ward and the Revolutionary War
During the Revolutionary War, the Cherokees were divided on the issues of helping the British and whether force should be used to expel American settlers on Cherokee land. Nancy’s cousin, Dragging Canoe, the son of Attakullaculla, wanted to side with the British against the white settlers. Ward, however, spoke up in favor of supporting the American settlers.
In May 1775, a delegation of Shawnee, Delaware, and Mohawk emissaries traveled south to help the British win the support of the Cherokees and other tribes. That July, the Chickamauga Cherokee band of the Tennessee River Valley led by Dragging Canoe began attacking white settlements and forts in the Appalachians and in isolated areas of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. In retaliation, state militias destroyed Cherokee villages and crops. By 1777, the militias would force the Cherokee to give up some of their land.
In July 1776, Ward warned white settlers on the Holston River and on the Virginia border that the Cherokees were planning an attack. Later, she saved the life of a captured white woman who was about to be executed. The white woman’s husband was William Bean, reportedly a friend of Daniel Boone and a captain in the colonial militia. Ward and Mrs. Bean developed a friendship during the time that Mrs. Bean remained with the Cherokees, and Ward learned about dairy farming from her. Apparently out of gratitude, Ward’s village was spared from being razed when the frontier militia made its way through Cherokee lands.
Meanwhile, Dragging Canoe and his band continued to attack American settlements with arms supplied by the British. Finally, in 1778, Colonel Evan Shelby and 600 men invaded Dragging Canoe’s territory. The result was that Cherokee resistance from that point forward was limited to minor conflict.
In 1780, Ward provided American soldiers with advanced warning of a another Cherokee attack, and tried to prevent retribution against the Cherokees by the whites. According to Felton, Ward even arranged to have a herd of her own cattle sent to the hungry militia. Nevertheless, the North Carolina militia would again invade Cherokee territory, destroying villages and demanding further land cessions. In the ensuing battle, which Ward had tried in vain to stop, she and her family were captured by the Americans; she was eventually released and allowed to return to her home in Chota.
In July 1781, Ward helped negotiate a peace treaty between the Cherokees and the Americans. The signing of the treaty freed the Americans to move a detachment of troops to fight with George Washington’s army against the British General Cornwallis in the final battle of the American Revolution.
He said, “What’s the matter Brother Wolf? Can I help you?” wa-ya cried, “I can’t open my eyes. Oh, please help me to see again.” U-wo-di-ge tsi-s-qua said, “I’m just a little brown bird but I will help you if I can.” Wa-ya said, ” u-wo-di-ge tsi-s-qua, if you can help me to see again, I will take you to a magic rock that oozes red paint. We will paint your feathers gi-ga-ge.”
Citico Creek & Tanasi
The Monument reads:
“The site of the former town of Tanasi, now underwater, is located about 300 yards west of this marker.
Tanasi attained political prominence in 1721 when its civil chief was elected the first ‘Emperor of the Cherokee Nation’.
About the same time, the town name was also applied to the river on which it was located.
During the mid-18th century Tanasi became overshadowed and eventually absorbed by the adjacent town of Chota which was to the immediate north.
The first recorded spelling of Tennessee as it is today occurred on LT. Henry Timberlake’s map of 1762.
In 1796, the name Tennessee was selected from among several as most appropriate for the nation’s 16th state.
Therefore, symbolized by this monument, those who reside in this beautiful state are forever linked to the Cherokee heritage.”