Hosted by Atlantic Black Box

Next up in our What Happened Here speaker series: A free Black couple move to a town north of Boston and are run out by its residents

Thursday, February 24, 2022 from 5:00 – 6:00 pm ET

Register here

Phillis Wheatley Peters (1753 – 1784) was enslaved and educated in the household of prominent Boston merchant John Wheatley. Her poetry brought her unprecedented international fame. Phillis’s name was regularly invoked by colonists and her achievements were a catalyst for the fledgling antislavery movement.

Yet in the years when slavery was ending in Massachusetts, Phillis and her husband, now a free Black couple, moved to an interior town north of Boston. Concerted opposition from many neighbors made it impossible for them to stay.

What do the extensive court papers in this case tell us about town politics, race-based hierarchies, access to the law and citizenship, and the final four years of the African-born poet Phillis Wheatley Peters’s life?

Read Cornelia Dayton’s award-winning New England Quarterly article, “Lost Years Recovered: John Peters and Phillis Wheatley Peters in Middleton.”

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