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Mon, 03.06.1797

Gerrit Smith, Abolitionist born

Gerrit Smith

*Gerrit Smith was born on this date in 1797. He was a white-American abolitionist. From Utica, New York, in 1806, he came with his parents to Peterboro, New York, in Madison County.

He came from a wealthy family and used some of his money to fund the campaign for temperance. In 1835, Smith joined the Anti-Slavery Society after seeing their speakers attacked by a wild mob in Utica. Five years later, he played an important role in forming the anti-slavery Liberty Party.  Smith spent significant time and money working toward social progress in the nineteenth-century United States. Besides making significant donations of both land and money to the African American community in North Elba, New York, he was involved in the Temperance Movement, the colonization movement, and abolitionism.

He was their unsuccessful presidential candidate in 1848 and 1852. Smith used his money to set up free black communities, including a settlement in Virginia where John Brown lived.

It has been said that he was not aware that Brown used some of his money to fund the raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859. Gerrit Smith died in NYC on Dec. 28, 1874, and is buried in the Peterboro Cemetery.


National Abolition Hall of Fame

Donna D. Burdick,
Smithfield Town Historian,
home of Peterboro, NY, and the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark

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