- 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 blacks in prerevolutionary North America....