Phillis Wheatley & George Washington

Black History Month honors Black Americans and their contributions every February. Presidents’ Day is the official observance of George Washington‘s birthday on the third Monday of February. One story combines them.

In February 1776, Gen. George Washington read a “letter and poem addressed to me by Mrs. or Miss Phillis Wheatley” at his camp in Cambridge, Mass. Despite coming to Boston as a child and being sold into slavery in 1761, by this time Wheatley had become the first published African American. A wealthy British patron in England had published her poetry in 1773 in a book called “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.”

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