The Narrative of Venture Smith begins with Smith’s recollection of his own capture and removal from Guinea, Africa. At the age of around six Smith is the oldest son of an African king whose tribe has been taken over by slave traders. After witnessing horrible events, such as the brutal slaying of his own father, Smith is eventually sold to a white man by the name of Robertson Mumford. After surviving the trip to America the young smith becomes the trusted slave of Mumford. After 13 years Smith Marries, and troubles between Smith and Mumford’s wives cause Mumford to begin beating Smith and eventually sell him. Smith is sold a few more times over the course of his life, and in that time endures a lot of abuse. Finally, Smith is able to buy his own freedom as well as the freedom of his family. Despite losing considerable amounts of money Smith is still able to purchase 100 acres of land and three houses for himself and his family.
I found the Narrative of Venture Smith very stimulating to read especially along side the Franklin Autobiography. Smith and Franklin are basically polar opposites. Smith is a downtrodden black slave who hardly seems to catch a break, while Franklin is a middle class white man who, compared to Smith, leads a privileged life. Both however use hard work and resolve to achieve their goals. Each man sticks to their convictions, and holds morality in high esteem. Smith showed time and time again that he was a trustworthy man, even when it came to the people who bought and sold him like an object.
I do have one minor question about a symbol that appeared a few times in this text (once in the title and once somewhere in the middle) and in the Franklin Autobiography. What does “&c.” mean? I want to say it means etcetera, but I’m not certain on that. It bothers me that I can’t figure it out! J