Excerpt from Narratives of Colored Americans
In 1761 John Wheatley's wife went to the slave market in Boston, for a girl whom she might train to wait upon her in her old age. At that time ships were sent from Boston to Africa after cargoes of slaves, which were sold to the people of Massachusetts. Among a group of more robust and healthy children just imported from Africa, the lady observed one of slender form, suffering from change of climate and the miseries of the voyage. She was interested in the poor little girl, bought her, and took her home. The child, who was named Phillis, was almost naked, her only covering being a strip of dirty carpet; but in a short time the effects of comfortable clothing and food were visible in her returning health.
Phillis at the time of her purchase was between seven and eight years of age, and the intention of her mistress was to train her as a servant; but the intelligence which the young girl soon exhibited, induced her mistress's daughter to teach her to read.
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