Gerrit Smith biographer gives two talks in Vernon


VERNON — Norman Dann, professor emeritus at Morrisville State College and biographer of abolitionist and philanthropist Gerrit Smith, will give two talks in April and June for the Vernon Historical Society, the group announced.

At 7 p.m. April 23 at the Vernon town offices at 4305 Peterboro St., Dann will speak on his book “Practical Dreamer: Gerrit Smith and the Crusade for Social Reform.”

Smith purchased individuals and families directly from slaveholders, sending agents into the South to negotiate financial terms for freedom. By the mid 1840s, Smith had contributed more than $50,000, equivalent to $5 million today. 

At 7 p.m. June 25, also at Vernon town offices, Dann speaks on his book “When We Get to Heaven: Runaway Slaves on the Road to Peterboro.” The book describes the origins of slavery and details the lives of slaves on southern plantations, with first-person narratives by slaves and their owners and documents the struggles of those who risked their lives to escape slavery, and in doing so, passed through Peterboro, New York, where Smith lived.

The program is free and open to the public. The Vernon Historical Society is a non-profit organization striving to preserve the history of Vernon and Vernon Center. For more information email or search Facebook for “Vernon Historical NY.”


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