U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, introduced a resolution to designate April 10 as “Venture Smith Freedom Day” to mark the day 257 years ago. , where the former slave bought his own freedom and later that of his family.
The resolution honors Smith’s legacy as “a successful landowner, businessman, and author in the United States, generations before black Americans began to gain constitutional, legal, social, and economic rights.”
Born in 1729 in Africa, Smith was abducted from his home at the age of 10 and brought to New England.
He lived in Rhode Island and Fishers Island, before a 21-year period from 1754 to 1775 when owned by Thomas Stanton and Oliver Smith in Stonington. It was from Oliver Smith that Venture Smith bought his freedom. Later he bought land on Barn Island in Stonington.
Smith purchased his freedom in 1765 and then worked to free his family from bondage as well. Smith and his family moved to East Haddam in 1775, where he continued to own over 130 acres and establish a farm and business enterprise. In 1798 he became the first African American to write and publish his own autobiography.
Smith died in 1805 and is buried in East Haddam.