Venture Smith and the Business of Slavery and Freedom
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
Table of Contents
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THE STORY of Venture Smith is an important part of American history. In many ways, it is an American story of the struggle for freedom. Yet Venture struggled against a powerful American institution, the institution of slavery. The capture and enslavement of this one African in eighteenth-century America before ...
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THE INSPIRATION for this book took form in the summer of 2006, in the burial ground of the First Church of Christ, Congregational, of East Haddam, Connecticut, when a team of forensic scientists began excavating the graves of two emancipated slaves, Venture Smith (d. 1805) and his wife, Marget (d. 1809), known as Meg. ...
“How I Came By My Name”
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A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, . . .
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Part I: History
Chapter 1: The African Background of Venture Smith
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A NARRATIVE of the Life and Adventures of Venture . . . chronicles the story of a remarkable man, born in the interior of West Africa around 1727 and buried in the cemetery of the Congregational Church in East Haddam, Connecticut, in 1805. Like many others, he was sent as a slave across the Atlantic, ...
Chapter 2: Trust and Violence in Atlantic History: The Economic Worlds of Venture Smith
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VENTURE SMITH has been celebrated as an individual whose life provides a human face for the millions of enslaved Africans caught in the vortex of the Atlantic slave trade.1 Venture’s life was hardly representative, but examined closely through his own narrative it may be seen as representative of many aspects ...
Chapter 3: Venture Smith and the Law of Slavery
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WHEN, as an aging man, Venture Smith recalled his life as a slave in colonial New York and Connecticut, he still bore the scars— both physical and emotional— of an incident that unfolded around 1759, when he was about thirty years old and had been in America some twenty years. ...
Chapter 4: “Owned by Negro Venture”: Land and Liberty in the Life of Venture Smith
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IN 1798 an ailing Venture Smith reflected as an elderly man on his life’s achievements: “My freedom is a privilege which nothing else can equal. . . . I am now possessed of more than one hundred acres of land, and three habitable dwelling houses.” 1 Smith’s careful listing of his property alongside the “privilege” of his freedom ...
Part II: Memory
Chapter 5: Venture Smith, One of a Kind
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THE PUBLICATION of a collection of archeological, critical, and historical essays on Venture Smith’s Narrative acknowledges the place that the story of Smith’s life holds in the African American literary canon. Few would now dispute its current canonized status as a work considered worthy of study on its own literary merits.1 ...
Chapter 6: Keeping His Word: Money, Love, and Privacy in the Narrative of Venture Smith
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IN 1844 Ralph Waldo Emerson, wrote that he was shocked at how little he felt at the loss of his young son Waldo: “In the death of my son, now more than two years ago, I seem to have lost a beautiful estate,— no more. I cannot get it nearer to me. If tomorrow I should be informed of the bankruptcy of my principal debtors, ...
Part III: Legacy
Chapter 7: The Genomics Perspective on Venture Smith: Genetics, Ancestry, and the Meaning of Family
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IT SEEMS that hardly a week passes without some reminder that genomic analysis can reveal, often in dramatic fashion, otherwise unknown aspects of human history. Whether through television, radio, newspapers, magazines, or the Internet, we are constantly learning about the potential applications of genetic studies. ...
Chapter 8: Venture Smith and Philosophical Theories of Human Rights
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WHO, if anyone, has the moral right to speak for Venture Smith in giving consent to exhume his grave for DNA? Does this right reside with the family group whose cultural and biological identities merge with Venture’s, or is this exhumation an affront in some way to Venture’s human dignity ...
Chapter 9: Venture Smith’s Gravestone: Its Maker and His Message
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VENTURE SMITH died in 1805, at some time in his mid-seventies, and was honored with a large funeral at the East Haddam First Congregational Church. He was buried in the First Church Cemetery and his grave marked with a richly carved gravestone (fig. 9.1). At a glance, the large brownstone marker ...
“The Freedom Business”
Documenting Venture Smith Project Time Line
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Notes on Contributors
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Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 8 illus.
Publication Year: 2010