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John Howard Smith

fisherman, harbor pilot, and elite member of Charleston, South Carolina's, black population, was executed by the provincial government for purportedly fomenting a slave insurrection at the outset of the American War for Independence. Much of Jeremiah's life is shrouded in mystery. Born to unidentified slave parents, Jeremiah—or “Jerry” as he may also have been known—secured his freedom by some means in the 1750s or 1760s and was married, but the identity of his wife is not known. The marriage apparently produced no children.

Like many other young Low Country slaves and free blacks, Jeremiah became intimately familiar with South Carolina's river transport networks, and by 1760 had established himself as a capable pilot in and around Charleston Harbor He parlayed the time spent on the water into a lucrative fishing business He supplied the port city residents with his daily catches and in time became arguably one ...

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Philip D. Morgan

Jeremiah, Thomas (?–18 August 1775), free black pilot and fisherman who was executed for allegedly fomenting a slave uprising was born a slave to unknown parentage Although his birthplace is unknown Jeremiah lived his adult life in Charleston South Carolina By the middle of the eighteenth century he had somehow secured his freedom He married but when and to whom are a mystery There were no known children At least by the early 1750s Jeremiah worked as a harbor pilot In 1755 a newspaper report attributed an accident to the Carelessness of a Negro Pilot Jerry But Jeremiah earned more respect for his skill and courage as a firefighter Indeed in 1768 he capitalized on his good reputation to establish himself as a fisherman offering fresh fish daily to urban residents He became a prosperous member of the Charleston community and perhaps one of the richest free ...