Smith, Gerrit (1797 – 1874)

Smith, Gerrit (1797 – 1874)

  • <p>Gerrit Smith. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.</p>

Gerrit Smith was a prominent abolitionist who ran for President on three occasions, and who quite probably helped fund John Brown's attack on Harper's Ferry. He was connected to many other abolitionists including Frederick Douglass, and to the Underground Railroad.

He gave tracts of land to many African American families and individuals, including a piece of land to Moses Harris on Staten Island, that became part of the free Black community of Sandy Ground. Moses and his brother were among the earliest founders of this community. (See land deed below). Gerrit Smith knew the importance and connection of land ownership and voting rights. Until 1872, African American men had to own property in order to vote.

Gerrit Smith was also connected to the Underground Railroad and, after 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Act he frequently paid the legal expenses of those caught by the Act. Through these connections it is believed he was likely one of the people who contributed to Louis Napoleon's pension after he retired from his work as an Underground Railroad conductor on Staten Island.

Read more about Gerrit Smith at:

  • <p>Deed of land for Moses Harris from Gerrit Smith for plot on Staten Island. Sept 1, 1846. Document provided by Russ McAuliffe.</p>