Venture Smith cover

photo credits: English Wikipedia

Venture Smith

Colonial American slave

1729   -   1805

occupation: writer

Venture Smith (Birth name: Broteer Furro) (c. 1729 – 1805) was captured when he was a 6 and a half-year-old boy in West Africa and was taken to Anomabo on the Gold Coast (today Ghana) to be sold as a slave. As an adult in Rhode Island (Connecticut), he purchased his freedom and that of his family. He documented his life in A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa: But Resident above Sixty Years in the United States of America, Related by Himself. This autobiography is one of the earliest known example of an autobiographical narrative in an entirely African American literary voice. Out of almost 12 million African captives who embarked on the Middle Passage to the Americas, only about a dozen left behind first-hand accounts of their experiences. Smith inherited the name "Venture" from Robinson Mumford, who was his first white enslaver. Mumford decided to call him "Venture" because he considered purchasing him to be a business venture. Mumford bought Venture with four gallons of Rum and a piece of calico. After regaining his freedom, Smith adopted his last name from Oliver Smith (his last enslaver). In his narrative, Smith describes his people in his native country as having been generally of great bodily stature, stout and tall. And he reports that he personally was well over 6 feet 1 1⁄2 inches (1.87 m) tall, weighed 300 pounds (140 kg), and carried an 9-pound (4.1 kg) axe for felling trees. This is confirmed by the archaeological project in 2007 and the runaway ad from 1754. Venture Smith died in 1805. He is buried at the First Church of Christ cemetery in East Haddam, Connecticut, now a site on the Connecticut Freedom Trail.
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