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Phillis Wheatley and others

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Sarah Youree

on 20 March 2017

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Transcript of Phillis Wheatley and others

Samson Occom,
Olaudah Equiano, and
Phillis Wheatley

Historically Marginalized Americans
Is it
realistic
to think that any American can achieve his or her own version of the
American Dream
by following the same sort of path that Franklin advocates in his autobiography (valuing education, working hard, being a good person)?
Are there
still
factors beyond an individual's control that limit his or her capacity to achieve that dream?
As you read the texts for next class, consider social divisions that were prevalent at the founding of the United States of America.

How do some of the founders conceal, ignore, or justify such extreme social divisions as they simultaneously argue for democratic ideals?
Samson Occom (1723-1792)
Born as a member of the Mohegan tribe (in Connecticut)
At age 16 he converted to Christianity during the Great Awakening
Taught himself to read and studied under the guidance of his mentor, the minister Eleazer Wheelock
At Wheelock's request, Occom traveled to England to preach/raise funds for a school to educate Indian children. Occom hoped his service would result in a ministry position among his own tribe, the Mohegans. But when he returned from England, he was not offered any position, and Wheelock decided to use the money Occom had raised to found Dartmouth College instead.
Occom cut ties from Wheelock and continued to preach, teach, and publish in efforts to serve his fellow Native Americans.
Based on your reading of Occom's recounting of his early life (p. 502), how did most members of the Mohegan tribe react to the English colonists?

What influences of those same colonists can you see in Occom's choice of words and tone?
Early Life
On p. 503, Occom describes his conversion to Christianity and his learning how to read.

Who is Occom's
audience
, and what is his
purpose
in detailing his experience to that audience in this passage?
Occom's Conversion
Early Career
On p. 504-5, Occom describes his early days teaching and preaching .

What is the
purpose
of his going into so much
detail
about the specifics of his service to that community?

Find a specific passage (1-2 lines), and explain why you think he included it in this account of his life.
The Benefits of Hard Work
Considering the descriptions of the farming Occom includes on the top half of p. 506, who do you think worked harder to provide for his family: Samson Occum or Ben Franklin?

Compare and contrast both of these men's work habits, using specific instances from their accounts.

Is hard work a guarantee of success?
Freeloader?
In the second half of p. 506, Occom describes the circumstances leading him to ask for charity from others.

What does his reliance on other people for money say about his character?

How do we as a society today view people who rely on financial assistance to make ends meet?

Are there circumstances that justify such financial reliance on others? (consider both Occom's case and possible cases of modern-day Americans.)
Occom's Conclusions
In the last two paragraphs of his account (p. 507), what charge does Occom level against his bosses/superiors in the ministry?

Is he justified in this accusation?

How has he arrived at this conclusion?
Olaudah Equiano (1745?-1797)
Historical scholars are not sure whether Equiano was born in Africa (as he claims in his narrative) or in the American colonies -- it's up for debate and further research.
His first master sent him to school in London, where he learned how to read and write.
Equiano served and fought in the British Navy during the Seven Years War (or French and Indian War) .
He was sold back into slavery in the West Indies, purchased by a Quaker from Pennsylvania, who allowed him to work and eventually buy his own freedom.
Equiano converted to Christianity after he became a free man.
Among many other occupations, Equiano worked to abolish the slave trade.
His narrative became an international bestseller, translated into several languages.
Why does Equiano's original title include so much information?
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself
Kidnapping and Slavery in Africa
Equiano tells his readers that his first slave masters were fellow Africans who were so culturally similar that they spoke the same language he did.

What does he think of this initial slavery? How was he treated?
(p. 516-7).
Meeting with Sister
On p. 518, Equiano relates the story of meeting his sister again as he traveled with African slave traders.

What purpose does this section of his narrative serve for his audience at the time he published this work?

What is your opinion of his writing style in this section?
First Impressions of Europeans
On p. 521, Equiano relates his first impressions of the European slave traders.

What does he think of them? How does he react to being taken on board the slave ship?
Reaction to the Slave Ship
On p. 521-2, what does Equiano say he would have done if he had gotten the chance?

Is his wish justified?
The transportation of slaves from Africa to the Americas.
The Middle Passage
Direct Appeal to Audience
What are Equiano's arguments at the end of Chapter 2 (p. 525)?

Explain how they work, and discuss how his appeal is tailored to fit his audience.

What is your opinion of his writing style, on the whole?
Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784)
Born in west Africa
Named "Phillis" after the slave ship that carried her to Boston
Taught to read and write by her master's daughter
While she was legally a slave, she was treated comparably well by the Wheatley family and received an unusually good education
As a teenager, she wrote and published poetry, which soon made her famous.
In order to find a publisher for her collection of poetry, she traveled to London, where she also met Ben Franklin.
After returning to Boston, she was emancipated.
She died at age 31, having suffered many personal hardships, including the death of two of her children and very little success in further efforts to publish her work.
"On Being Brought from Africa to America"
"Letter to Samson Occom"
In her open letter to Occom (p. 612), Wheatley employs a popular
biblical allusion
-- identify it and comment on its effectiveness at reaching her intended audience.

Summarize the crux of her argument in this letter.
For next time...
Thomas Jefferson,
Thomas Paine, and
J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur
Prior Knowledge
Think/Pair/Share:

What have you already learned about the slavery in America?

What were the lives of American slaves like? What sorts of treatment did they receive?
Structure
Label the rhyme structure.

Identify the meter.

Prepare to explain both rhyme and meter to a partner and/or the class.
Diction
Define any words you don't know.

Feel free to look them up and make a quick note of their definition.

Do any words in particular stand out to you? Why?
Other Literary Devices
Take some time to identify and explain the following devices as they work in this poem:
allusion
imagery
tone
mood
any other device you see
Audience and Purpose
Who do you think Wheatley's target
audience
is?

What is the
argument
she is making in this poem? Write it out in moden-day prose, and prepare to share it.
Full transcript