Literature from the Revolutionary period

Literature from the Revolutionary period was mostly political. Some Americans found their voice in different genres. Newspapers saved space for religious or reflective poetry or ballads.

Autobiographies and compilations of letters were published. Most of these chronicled life in America. Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753-1784) was kidnapped from West Africa and enslaved in Boston. She became the first African American and one of the first women to publish a poem book called “On Being Brought from Africa to America”. Her poem is a direct response to the situation in which she found herself. Wheatley even got to meet/receive correspondence from leaders of the American revolution.

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A true inspiration that proved literacy can be the gateway to the greatest of voices. Olaudah Equine (c.1745-1797) was a former enslaved African, merchant and seaman. Like Wheatley, Equiano might never have written his autobiography if he didn’t get kidnapped from this home in Africa and sold into slavery as a child. In his writing, he describes the terrible conditions he endured as a victim of the slave trade. His autobiography aided the British Slave Trade Act of 180 (which ended the African slave trade).


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