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Phillis Wheatley



Phillis Wheatley
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.39

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    combat, irresponsible, oversee, educational, react, inferior, preacher, tragedy, writing, uncommonly, social, marriage, afterward, market, death, literary
     content words:    Phillis Wheatley, West Africa, John Wheatley, Young Phillis, Phillis Greek, George Whitefield, Various Subjects, Susannah Wheatley, John Peters, Black Americans


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Phillis Wheatley
By Mary L. Bushong
  

1     How would you react if you were suddenly kidnapped? You were taken far from everything you knew. Then you were sold to strangers in an even stranger land. A young African child who became known as Phillis Wheatley used this terrible event to make her life better.
 
2     No one knows for certain the exact date of Phillis Wheatley's birth, but it was around 1753. It is thought that she was born in a part of West Africa that we know today as Senegal. When she was about seven years old, she was kidnapped and put aboard a slave ship headed to America. It landed at the city of Boston, and she was offered for sale in the slave market there.
 
3     A tailor by the name of John Wheatley was looking for a personal servant for his wife. He bought the little girl and took her home with him. Young Phillis was never treated as a slave in her new home. She was treated more as a third child, and she came to love the family dearly.
 
4     When it became obvious that she had an uncommonly bright mind, the Wheatleys taught her to read and write. It was very unusual for a slave to have such opportunities. In less than two years, Phillis had mastered the English language and was hungry for more. Mrs. Wheatley and her daughter also taught Phillis Greek and Latin. She used her new language abilities to translate a tale from Ovid. It amazed the scholars in Boston at the time.

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