Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Venture Smith

     Venture Smith is similar to Benjamin Franklin in many ways.  They both started out with little (Venture practically nothing), but ended their lives with an accomplished spirit and content heart.  Venture has a few important memories from his childhood that make up his character from the early ages of five and six the first one being his mother abandoning him with strangers in a distant land (page 7) and another one being attacked by dogs (page 8).  Being attacked by dogs is possibly a foreshadowing of later events to come (beatings from masters that seem to come out of the blue).  Eventually his father comes and retrieves him from the strangers that have been, in fact, very kind to him and have treated him like their own son (page 7).  The situation he returns home to however is not a good one.  His guardian's homeland is soon attacked by a foreign army and his father, being the kind and generous leader he is, gives them temporary shelter which ultimately leads to their downfall as well (page 10).  This area of his father's character is played out in Venture's life later on when he is taking in fellow servants just to free them from the slavery they are experiencing with their masters (page 27).  Possibly one of his most important childhood memories is watching his father fight for his life and eventually loose the battle (page 10).  From witnessing this act, he learns that his father is by no means a doormat and he admires him for this.  On page 13 he is put on a boat to Rhode Island under the control of Captain Collingwood  and Thomas Mumford.  He is purchased by the steward of the boat Robertson Mumford who gives him the name "Venture".  His birth name was Broteer.  Once he arrives in America he begins his long journey of being a slave.  Because of his cunning skills, and common sense, he is passed from master to master.  Even as a young child he is intelligent (page 14) which is evident in the illustration with the keys.  In the beginning he almost seems to have two different masters much like Franklin did when working at the printers and Venture experiences conflict from this as well (page 15).  Along the way, he marries a fellow servant named Meg and decides to pursue freedom with Heddy and other fellow servants in Mississippi.  His ability to think quickly and make the right decision is evidenced in this adventure (page 17).  He may not have connections with influential people like Franklin did, but he makes up for it in his ability to think quickly an make the right decisions (page 17).  He mirrors his father's character on page 20 when he fights for his life against two other strong men.  He does not seek violence in his life but takes care of himself when it is absolutely necessary.  Hempsted Miner is an interesting character because he helps Venture eventually obtain freedom but he takes advantage of the situation by making him work for ridiculous salaries and time periods (page 22).  Another similarity between Franklin and Venture is frugality which is evidenced on page 25.  When Venture purchases his two sons Solomon and Cuff on Ram-Island on page 26 it is obvious that he is very money conscious but also very focused on reuniting his family.  Towards the end on pages 28-31, Venture starts acquiring money and land and his family is all in the same place at the same time.  It is made obvious that he is content with himself and does not harbor many regrets similar to Franklin.
     Some questions I have include who is the "Almighty protector" he refers to on page 7?  Also, when his father obtains him from his guardian what does he mean by "settling with my guardian for keeping me?" (page 8).
     Venture is the perfect example of the type of person that Franklin referred to in his autobiography and the people described in The Sot Weed Factor.  Venture's writing is very similar to Franklin's in that there is little personal anecdotes written unless they have a meaning hidden that can be useful to others.  This is stated on the third page.  He is someone worth looking up to similar to Franklin.


  1. Good summary, but you need more of your thoughts and questions. Try to limit your summary to more general statements, and use your specific details from the text to ask questions or to support opinions. What did you find most interesting in this reading? What, if anything, did it remind you of?

    Remember to ask your questions in class!

  2. The thing I found most interesting in this reading was the way Venture pulled himself up from nothing and made a name for himself in a way. He's certainly not famous or well known like Benjamin Franklin is but he did, in the end, have his family all around him and have land and his own slaves! This part of his story really surprised me. I didn't know that former slaves owned slaves for themselves. The fact that he acquired so much land also interested me. Similar to what we discussed in class today, I think Venture symbolizes the American Dream by his ability and determination to make the most out of his life as he could even though he was a black man in the late 1700s.

  3. I have to agree with your statement, about Smith and Franklin being similiar people. They both were not born with that much, but managed to become memorable figures.