What does Venture Smith represent in African American history?

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Venture Smith (originally named Broteer) was born in Africa. At the age of eight, Venture was captured and sold into slavery. Venture was most notably known for his great size and unwillingness to cooperate with his owners. Prior to buying his freedom (and the freedom of his family), Venture was sold numerous times. He bought his freedom for around 71 pounds.

After purchasing his freedom, Venture told a school teacher of his life story. The teacher wrote down Smith's story, and Smith published it in 1798. His narrative was titled:

A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa: But Resident above Sixty Years in the United States of America, Related by Himself.

Representing a slave's ability to escape from ownership, oppression, and abuse, through industry and "free labor," Smith's size likens him to Paul Bunyan. He was larger than most at over 300 pounds.


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