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Toolbox Library, primary resources thematically organized with notes and discussion questionsOnline Seminars, professional development seminars for history and literature teachersLiving the Revolution: America, 1789-1820
Living the Revolution: America, 1789-1820
Topic: Predicaments of Early Republican LifeTopic: ReligionTopic: PoliticsTopic: ExpansionTopic: Equality
Topic: Predicaments of Early Republican Life
Overview of Living the Revolution: America, 1789-1820
Resource Menu: Predicaments of Early Republican Life
Text 1. Benjamin Franklin
Text 2. Venture Smith
» Reading Guide
•  Link

Text 3. Washington Irving
Text 4. Royall Tyler
Text 5. Benjamin Rush
Text 6. Noah Webster


RESOURCE MENU » Reading Guide Link

Reading Guide
2.  Venture Smith (Broteer Furro), A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, A Native of Africa, 1798, excerpts     Venture Smith, A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture

A very teachable text, useful to contrast with Franklin's Autobiography. In Guinea, where he was born, his father named him Broteer, but at the age of eight, on a slaver bound for Rhode Island, the ship's steward bought him for "four gallons of rum and a piece of calico" and renamed him Venture, because he had become venture capital. In the preface his editor explicitly compares Venture to Franklin, and, indeed, like Franklin, he makes his way through thrift, hard work, and his own initiative. Yet his life, "with no foundation in reason or justice," turns out quite differently. Is he the black Benjamin Franklin? 15 pages (plus 7 supplemental pages).


Discussion questions
  ·  What characteristics do Venture and Franklin share?
  ·  Both Franklin and Venture say a great deal about their business dealings. How are their attitudes to business similar? How are they different?
  ·  How do Venture and Franklin measure success?
  ·  If Franklin wrote his biography to show young men how to get on in the new republic, why did Venture write his?
  ·  What is the rhetorical affect of Venture's repeated victimizations?
  ·  Does Venture's story refute Franklin's?
  ·  Does Venture represent an American archetype?


» Link


Topic Framing Questions
  •  What was the nature of the society that formed in the immediate aftermath of the American Revolution and the ratification of the Constitution?
  •  What did the citizens of the early republic hope for?
  •  What did they fear?
  •  How did they seek to balance freedom and order?




Toolbox: Living the Revolution: America, 1789-1820
Predicaments | Religion | Politics | Expansion | Equality


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Toolbox Library: Primary Resources in U.S. History and Literature
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