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March 1999


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bill lindsay <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Wed, 3 Mar 1999 19:14:03 -0500
text/plain (36 lines)
According to Lerone Bennett in Before the Mayflower (1961), "Jupiter
Hammon, a New York slave, was probably the first Negro author. His poem,
"An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ, with Penitential Cries," was
printed as a broadside in 1760.

Wheatley arrived in Boston from Africa in 1761(about 7-8 years old) as a
slave. In the household of the Wheatleys, she became an avid reader and
by age 14 had begun to quietly write poems in the manner of Pope. Her
poem to Washington lead to a visit while he was at Cambridge and she was
entertained by he and his officers. Her book, Poems On Various Subjects,
Religious and Moral (pub. about 1770) and visit to England in 1773, made
her an international celebrity.

Hers was the second book published by a woman in America.

She is considered by many to be America's first African American poet,
despite the Jupiter Hammon poem ten years her senior. That may have to
do with the fact that she is regarded soley as a poet whereas Hammon's
reputation has a more diverse foundation.

I am sure there are people on this list who can speak to this issue with
more information and authority than I can. I would appreciate them
taking the time to share what they know.

All the best,



William R. Lindsay  95 Benjamin Avenue  Rochester  NY  14616-3160

(716)  621-3573 (h) >[log in to unmask]      (716) 865-0188  fax