1773 | Boston

Aboard the Angelic Train

Phillis Wheatley on equality before God.

’Twas mercy brought me from my pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there’s a God—that there’s a savior too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye—
“Their color is a diabolic dye.”
Remember, Christians, Negroes black as Cain
May be refined, and join the angelic train.

Illustration of a woman wearing a bonnet and writing with a quill at a desk

Phillis Wheatley

“On Being Brought from Africa to America.” Wheatley was kidnapped by slave traders in 1761 and taken by ship to Boston, where she was bought by a tailor. After mastering English, she learned Greek and Latin, translating a tale by Ovid, a feat which shocked the local scholars. Her Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral was published in 1773; shortly thereafter, she was awarded her freedom.