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Poems on Various Subjects

Phillis Wheatley Peters’ (1753-1784) Poems on Various Subjects was published to great acclaim and curiosity in 1773. The volume of poetry revealed an ample knowledge of Greek and Latin classical references, the Bible, and the great thinkers of the Enlightenment. Wheatley displayed an unusual intelligence not only for African Americans, but for women of the period. Counteracting the belief that enslaved African Americans lacked intellect and that she was a singular figure, Wheatley Peters dedicated a poem, “To S. M. a young African Painter, on seeing his Works"—to fellow enslaved artist, Scipio Moorhead, who provided the engraving of Wheatley Peters that is the best-known illustration of her .