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.


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.