Conversations at Noon: The Legacy of James L. Smith
Join Regan Miner, Executive Director of the Norwich Historical Society, and Sandra Soucy, retired Social Studies teacher from the Norwich Free Academy and Norwich Historical Society Board Member, as they explore the legacy of former slave James L. Smith.
Born on a Virginia plantation, Smith escaped slavery in 1838 with the help of Norwich’s David Ruggles, a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad in New York City. Smith came to Norwich, bought a house on School Street in 1845 and worked downtown as a shoemaker. Smith is a powerful and inspirational example of how an escaped slave traveled north for his freedom and how settling in Norwich, Connecticut changed his life. His 1881 autobiography remains an important first hand account of the era.
Take a deep dive into Smith’s life and explore the multi-faceted nature of this story of slavery, racial issues, education, political history, and religion.