George Washington and Phillis Wheatley

George Washington is a hero to many people because he did courageous things for a certain group of people but to another group of people he harmed and oppressed.  I asked my class if they thought it was appropriate for Phillis Wheatley to write a poem praising George Washington.  Phillis Wheatley was born in West Africa in 1753 and then sold into slavery at age 7 and transported to the United States.  She was purchased by a family with the last name Wheatley which is how she got her last name.   When Phillis’s master died she was given her freedom.  She went on to publish a set of poems and marry a free man.  Her poems were great and many people loved to read them, one of them being George Washington so she wrote a poem called To His Excellency General Washington.  In this poem she praises and glorifies America and George Washington so I asked my class if they thought it was appropriate for Phillis to praise and Glorify George Washington and this is what many of my students said:

Student#1-She should say nice things about George because he was successful.

Student#2-I think its appropriate for Phillis to praise George because its a free country and also an amendment to have your right to follow whatever religion you please.

Student #3-Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Back then people did not praise Washington so people probably looked at her different however her opinion is her opinion.

Student#4-She should say different things about him because he believed in enslaving people.  On one who was a slave owner should not be praised. Her views of him should be negative.

Student#5-I think it is not appropriate for her to praise George because he had slaves and did not treat them as individuals.

Please leave your own comments about this question and you can comment on the students response to the question.

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