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Sat, 05.23.1795

Stephen Smith, Abolitionist born

Stephen Smith

*The birth of Stephen Smith is celebrated on this date, c 1795.  He was a Black businessman and abolitionist.   

Stephen Smith was born in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania to a slave woman. Smith was five years old when he became the indentured servant to the Pennsylvanian businessman named Thomas Boude. At the age of 21, Smith had gathered enough money to purchase his freedom for $50 in 1818.   

After purchasing his freedom Smith planned ahead and opened up his own Lumber business in Columbia, Pennsylvania.  Smith would be very successful and looking for partners to grow his business even bigger.  In the early 1830s, Smith formed a partnership with William Whipper. Smith and Whipper would go and have huge success in the Lumber, coal, Philadelphia real estate, railroad cars, and investments in the stock market.  The two of them made a fortune and put it to good use, becoming true leaders of the Black community in their efforts to fight slavery.  In 1830 Smith was a chairman of the African American Abolitionist Organization in the town of Colombia, Pennsylvania. Smith was also ordained in the Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church on South Fifth Street, Columbia, in 1831. 

Word go out of his success and many white people grew jealous and felt the need to send Smith a message. In 1835 a group of unknown people vandalized the office of Smith and destroyed all his papers and records. This incident motivated Smith to work towards ending slavery more and more.  Smith would acquire a small room in the area where Blacks would hold meetings. Smith would also help the local underground railroad that ran through Maryland and provide help all the way to Canada. After the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Whipper and Smith persuaded 15,000 Blacks to make their way to Canada. After so many years of helping out slaves escape and his local community to have more rights in the eye of the government.  Stephen Smith died in 1873.  

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