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“S” is for Sampson

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“S” is for Sampson. Enslaved person, medical practitioner. Although little is known about him, Sampson was a healer of some renown in colonial South Carolina, with an apparent specialty in curing those who had been poisoned. The Commons House of Assembly appointed a committee to investigate “the most effective way to procure…a Cure for the Bite of Rattle Snakes from Sampson, a Negro fellow belonging to Mr. Robert Hume.” The committee investigated the matter, deemed the discovery of a snakebite cure to be a “General Benefit to Mankind,” and recommended the enslaved Sampson be freed. In 1755 Sampson was freed by the Commons House and awarded an annuity of £50 currency. His master was paid £300 in compensation for Sampson’s manumission. By order of the Commons House, Sampson’s cure for snakebite was printed in the South-Carolina Gazette.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.