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In the Classroom > African Americans Lessons > The Cost of Success

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Possible Answers to Discussion Questions

Yes, Lucy and Phillis were slaves, but:

  • they were given an education
  • their masters took good care of them
  • they might have been able to write- something few white women of their time could do
  • they became famous (Phillis was internationally recognized as a published author; Lucy was locally well-known.)

Yes, Lucy and Phillis accomplished great things, but:

  • were they happy?
  • what rights did they deserve?
  • would they have been better off not having been slaves at all?
  • were there ways in which they were not treated well?

If he had known these two women, Sewall might have said that:

  • he was surprised that they did use their freedom well, but perhaps they were the exception rather than the rule in this case
  • no matter how much they achieve, “they can never embody with us, and grow up into orderly Families…” because their skin and hair are different
  • as the “Offspring of GOD; They ought to be treated with a Respect agreeable…”

Obstacles Lucy and Phillis might have faced had they tried to accomplish what they did as free people of color:

  • With no white person of prominence who knew them well and who was responsible for their training to vouch for them, who would believe they were capable of accomplishing what they did? (For instance, those who disbelieved Phillis was capable of authoring her poems challenged her.)
  • As free people of color on their own, they probably would not have had the funds to publish or travel.
  • Without a white sponsor who knew them well, it would have been extremely difficult to gain attention and become known.

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