Scientists, historians hope clues put face on legend of slave

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EAST HADDAM, Conn. Kidnapped from his African homeland at age 7 and sold into slavery in America, Venture Smith would grow into a man of mythically large proportions. He won his freedom and became a successful 18th-century businessman so revered by this river town that its denizens to this day tend his grave.

While state and local historians know Smith's story well, they want to make it as well-known to the rest of the world as the story of Amistad and its hero, Cinque. To do that, they have undertaken an ambitious, international research project that will call on the expertise of scientists, archaeologists, historians and human rights activists.

"This is the story of the human spirit prevailing over evil," said David Richardson, a British historian taking part in the project. "It is a legacy of hope and optimism."

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