Sojourner Truth

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Sojourner Truth (about 1797 – November 26, 1883) was one of the first abolitionists and activists for women's rights. She was born as a slave, but escaped from slavery in 1826. She was born Isabella Baumfree, but renamed herself to 'Sojourner Truth' when she was 46 and announced she would travel to work against injustice.[1]The name Sojourner Truth translates as itinerant preacher. She is one of the most widely known African American women of the 19th century. Her freedom was linked with the passage of a New York State Law in 1799 that began the process of gradual emancipation.

She lectured widely on the cruelties she had experienced as a slave. She is best known for her "Ain't I a Woman?" speech, given at the Woman's Rights Convention of 1851. She also gave out speeches about abolishing slavery. Also, she became active in the Underground Railroad, helping blacks escape to freedom. She could only speak Dutch and at a young age soon learnt English. Sadly, she was beaten for not understanding the commands of her owners John and Sally Dumont. There is evidence that John beat her and Sally sexually abused her.

Early Life[change | change source]

Isabella Baumfree (Sojourner Truth) was born into slavery around 1797 in Swarterkill, New York. Sojourner was the daughter of James Baumfree and Elizabeth Baumfree. Her family’s slave owner was Colonel Hardenbergh. Sojourner was born a slave and did not know how to read or write because slaves weren’t taught how to. Out of 13 children, she was the youngest. In the first three decades of her life she was the property of five owners.It is In 1815 she dated fellow slave Thomas. Together they had 3 children. Her family was separated in 1806. In 1826 Isabella escaped to freedom with her infant daughter. Sojourner changed her name in 1843 from Isabella Baumfree to Sojourner Truth. She married and bore five children although only four of their names are known. She never learned to read or write and depended on others to take down her words while handling her correspondences.

Sojourner was the first African American to win a trial against a white man. This trial was about getting her son Peter back. This was a great accomplishment for African Americans. During the Civil War Belle told the people about the Woman's Right to vote and became friends with some other people, which one of them threaten that she would not support the issue.She campaigned for Republican Ulysses S. Grant. She was one of the prominent Americans that attempted to vote in the 1872 election but was refused the right to. She went on to support herself by selling copies of her book, “The Narrative of Sojourner Truth “. During that time, she was a Battle Creek resident and property owner. She spent the last few years of her life and died in Battle Creek, Michigan on November 26, 1883.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Amazing Life page". Sojourner Truth Institute site. Retrieved December 28, 2006.