In recognition of Black History Month, the Torrington Historical Society presents Venture Smith’s Narrative: The Earliest Known Entirely African- American Work of Literature, a lecture by Chandler Saint, president of the Beecher House Center for the Study of equal rights. The program will take place on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Torrington Historical Society, Carriage House Gallery on 192 Main St-Rear in Torrington and the Admission is free.
Venture Smith, circa 1728-1805, was sold into bondage as a boy in Africa. He worked as a slave in America for a quarter-century. Over time he saved money from side jobs and from selling vegetables that he grew.
He eventually earned enough to purchase his freedom. During his remaining years, Venture transformed himself into a highly respected American citizen. In 1798, Smith dictated his life story and it was published in New London CT as The Life and Adventures of Venture, A Native of Africa.
During the last decade, Chandler Saint and a team of researchers have uncovered many details of Venture’s life through painstaking research.
The results of that research were first published in 2009 under the title: Making Freedom: The Extraordinary Life of Venture Smith written by Chandler Saint and George Krimsky. Since 2009, Saint and Krimsky have continued their research and discovered many more “interesting and curious passages” from the life of Venture Smith, which will be included in a soon to be published second edition of their work.
For this program, Chandler Saint will give an overview of the life of Venture Smith with particular emphasis on newly discovered aspects of Venture’s story. Historian Robert P. Forbes has written that this new volume, is an indispensable work for anyone interested in the African-American story…it is likely to emerge as the definitive reference tool about a life in bondage and the triumph of overcoming it.”