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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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4. Spirit of Nationalism   

4. Spirit of Nationalism

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Activities: Author Activities

Phillis Wheatley - Selected Archive Items

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[1235] Ezekial Russell, Poem by Phillis, A Negro Girl [of] Boston, on the Death of the Reverend George Whitefield (1770),
courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Woodcut from the frontispiece of Wheatley's poem. An evangelical Christian, Phillis Wheatley drew heavily on religious themes for her work.

[1239] Phillis Wheatley, Frontispiece to Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773),
courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Wheatley was a respected poet in the late eighteenth century. Her work was resurrected by abolitionists just before the Civil War.

[1240] Phillis Wheatley, To the Rev. Mr. Pitkin, on the Death of His Lady. [Signed] Phillis Wheatley, Boston, June 16th, 1772,
courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Wheatley was greatly influenced by English poets such as John Milton and Alexander Pope. Her ability to master some of the conventions of their difficult styles was itself a form of protest against slavery.

[1241] Phillis Wheatley, A Letter from Phillis Wheatley to Dear Obour. Dated Boston, March 21, 1774,
courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Although Wheatley received great acclaim for her poetry, she was not able to find funding for her work after the death of her mistress, and she died in poverty.

[2734] David Bustill Bowser, Rather Die Freemen than Live to Be Slaves--3rd United States Colored Troops (c. 1865),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-23098].
This regimental flag shows an African American soldier standing next to Columbia. Due to pressure on both the War Department and President Lincoln, black soldiers began serving in the Union Army beginning in 1863.

[6551] Kenyon Cox, Columbia & Cuba--Magazine cover--Nude Study (1898),
courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [LC-USZ62-68463].
An allegorical cover of an 1898 magazine, exemplifying the openness toward the human body of the late-nineteenth-century realists. The names of the women, "Columbia" and "Cuba," refer to the relationship of the nations during the Spanish-American War.

[7388] Scipio Moorhead, Phillis Wheatley, Negro Servant to Mr. John Wheatley of Boston (1773),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC USZC4-5316].
Engraving of Wheatley seated at a desk, which appeared as an illustration in the 1773 edition of Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. By the age of fourteen, Wheatley had already published her first poem and was well on her way to publishing Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, which she traveled to Europe to promote.

[9019] Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man (1733),
courtesy of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Seventh Edition.
The first stanza of Pope's Essay on Man. Phillis Wheatley emulated Pope's neoclassical style. Her mastery of this difficult meter was a form of protest against slavery.

[9020] Alexander Pope, Imitations of Horace, from The Complete Poetical Works of Alexander Pope. With Life. (c. 1886),
courtesy of T. Y. Crowell & Co.
The first two stanzas from Pope's "Imitations of Horace." Phillis Wheatley drew heavily on Pope's prosody, including his use of heroic couplets.

[9048] Deacon George Thomas, Figurehead of America (2002),
courtesy of Claire Dennerlein and Paul Manson.
Plaque on side of statue reads: "This figurehead is from the clipper ship "America' built in 1874 at Quincy, Massachusetts, by Deacon George Thomas. In 1887 she was put on the Pacific coasting trade and was wrecked on San Juan Island in 1914." Seattle businessman and former mayor Robert Moran erected the figurehead at his resort in 1916 to commemorate the dying era of great shipbuilding in America.

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