America's first published black poet, Phillis Wheatley, born in Senegal,
was sold into slavery to John and Susannah Wheatley of Boston around 1760.
At an early age, Phillis displayed remarkable talents and published her first
poem, in 1770, when she was just 17. Three years later, a volume of her poetry
was published in London and Wheatley became a sensation.
Wheatley's poetry dealt primarily with religious and moral themes–her first
published piece was an elegy to the evangelical preacher George Whitefield. But
she was also a patriot and admirer of George Washington, about whom she wrote:
A crown, a mansion, and a throne
With gold unfading,
Washington! be thine.
Wheatley died at age 31, in 1784.