This video segment adapted from Africans in America tells the story of how Broteer, the seven-year-old boy from Africa, was sold into slavery and ...
Africans in America:"Revolution (1750–1805)"
This media asset was adapted from Africans in America.
© 2010, 1998 WGBH Educational Foundation. All Rights Reserved.
Adapted from Africans in America:"Revolution". Third party materials courtesy of Chicago History Museum, Massachusetts Historical Society, Independence National Historical Park, and Songtalk Publishing Co.
About 100 years before the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery in the United States, Venture Smith purchased his own freedom. Unlike slaves in the South who worked year-round on large plantations, Venture worked for small landowners in the North who could do without him from time to time. This gave Venture a chance to earn his own money by doing work for other people. His masters let him do this because they took a portion of any money that he earned.
Venture began doing odd jobs to earn money around 1750, when he fell in love with and married Meg, another slave. At the time, they were both the property of a slave owner in Rhode Island. One month after their first child, Hannah, was born, Venture was sold to Thomas Stanton in Connecticut and had to leave Rhode Island without his family. Venture didn't see his family again for another year and a half, when Stanton also bought Meg and Hannah.
While working for Stanton, Venture once fought back when his master attacked him for protecting Meg. Because of this, Venture was beaten, chained, and sold again to a series of slave owners. He continued to try to earn money, but it was not easy. He was often cheated out of the money he was promised.
In 1760, Venture was purchased by Colonel Oliver Smith. While working for Smith, he took every opportunity he could to earn money, always paying some of it to his master. Finally, in 1765, at the age of 36, Venture was able to purchase his freedom.
Venture spent his first years as a free man living and working on Long Island. He earned money by cutting wood, fishing, and even going on a whaling voyage. Over the course of six years, he was able to purchase his two sons, his pregnant wife, and Hannah from slavery.In 1774, he sold his land on Long Island and moved to East Haddam, Connecticut. There, he managed a large farm, operated sailing vessels, and ran multiple businesses.
In 1798, Venture helped to write a book about his life story. Venture Smith died in Connecticut on September 19, 1805, at the age of 77.
- Why did slaveholders typically employ young children like Venture inside the house?
- How did Venture Smith begin to stand up to those who mistreated him?
- How are Venture Smith's early experiences in slavery similar to or different from what you already knew about slavery in America?