Monday, September 5, 2011

Venture Smith

Venture Smith, a former prince, tells of his experiences as a slave in Rhode Island. After a dangerous time on the coast of Africa, Venture's homeland, his father was killed and he was thrown into the realms of slavery. He tells of how he was one of his first master's most trusted slaves. He did as he was told and didn't disobey orders. Despite his good behavior, he was traded to another master thus being seperated from his friends and his wife and young baby. Venture Smith went through numerous owners and eventually was allowed to go out and work on his own. By doing this and selling possessions, he was able to "buy back" his wife and friends and countless other slaves. He gave them a better life.
The first thing this made me think of was the "American Dream." Albeit twisted, Smith came up from nothing and really made something of himself. He fought through stereotypes and became a trusted slave and an educated black man. (That was unheard of at the time.) His story also reminded me of the story of Frederick Douglass. Douglass was a slave just as Smith was and he became a very smart, educated man. He was educated by his master's wife. She would sneak around behind her husband's back and teach Douglass to read. It was rare for slaves to be educated and know how to read and write at that time. Both of these men eventually had published works. I admired the way Venture Smith worked to get his family back together. Obviously, he had his values straight in life, much unlike Ben Franklin. He had honesty and a strong work ethic. Because of this he was able to help many people have a better life. If more people lived life the way Venture Smith did, then this would be a better world.

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