Professor Cornelia H. Dayton will present her essay “Lost Years Recovered: John Peters and Phillis Wheatley Peters in Middleton” at a Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar at the Massachusetts Historical Society on Tuesday, September 21 at 5:15pm EDT.
Litigation in Essex County reveals where the African-born poet Phillis Wheatley Peters and her husband John Peters went when they left Boston for three years starting in spring 1780. Peters came into possession of a substantial farm where he had been enslaved as a child. But his tenuous legal position and the hostility of many townspeople led to his eventually losing the land and deciding to move the family back to Boston. Panelists will discuss the implications of these new findings, the future research pathways they suggest, and investigative methods that expand our awareness of Black lives in the late eighteenth-century northeast. Attendees are invited to read the recently published article by Dayton that delineates the complicated litigation record.