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Smith, Hezekiah

Subscription book of endowments to College of Rhode Island; 1767-1770

In the late 1760s, the Corporation of the recently established College of Rhode Island (now known as Brown University) set out to raise an endowment. They assigned the task to Morgan Edwards and Hezekiah Smith, both Baptist ministers and members of the Corporation. While Edwards sailed to Britain, Smith set out for South Carolina, which was the heartland of both the Baptist religion and American slavery. Smith recorded donations in this account book. In all, he acquired pledges of over #3,700 Carolina pounds, the equivalent of over $50,000 today. Not surprisingly, the largest donations tended to come from the wealthiest men, virtually all of whom owed their fortunes to slavery and the slave trade.