Gerrit Smith Pin


Gerrit Smith (1797-1874) philanthropist and reformer was the wealthiest landowner in New York State. Smith’s father Peter Smith had made his fortune as a partner with John Jacob Astor in the fur trading business in the late 1700s. The elder Smith used his wealth to purchase land tracts. Gerrit amassed land holdings in 54 counties in New York State as well as in several other states. Smith saw this wealth as a divine gift to be used for the benefit of others who were oppressed. As a steward of the family wealth he denied himself and his family in order to give to others who he saw as less fortunate. It has been estimated that in his lifetime Gerrit Smith gave away over eight million dollars. By today’s standard that would be equivalent to approximately 600 million dollars. Gerrit Smith believed that the Union should be preserved and that the Constitution prohibited slavery. He helped to organize, and participated in, anti-slavery conventions in many New York communities. He offered liberal funding to abolitionist newspapers over long periods of time, especially the efforts of his close friend Frederick Douglass with his North Star and Frederick Douglass’ papers. Smith opened his Peterboro home as a station on the Underground Railroad to fugitive slaves and he aided hundreds of freedom seekers with his hospitality, his money, and his concern for human rights. Peterboro stood in the mid-nineteenth century as a model of interracial harmony and political concern for human rights.


Gerrit Smith was inducted into the National Abolition Hall of Fame & Museum (Peterboro NY) in  2005.


1.25” diameter metal shell


Mylar protective cover


Metal pin back


Artwork by Joe Flores


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