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Sojourner Truth was one of the most famous black American women of the nineteenth century, an illiterate former slave who voluntarily opposed slavery.

Although she never learned to read or write, she became a moving speaker for black freedom and women’s rights. Many of his fellow black abolitionists (who campaigned for the abolition of slavery) spoke only to blacks; Truth was to whites. When they spoke of violent rebellion, he talked of logic and religious understanding.

Sojourner Truth born circa 1797 in an estate owned by Dutch settlers in Ulster County, New York. She was the second youngest of the slave family of ten or twelve children of James Baumfry and his wife Elizabeth (known as “Mau-Mau Bet”). When her owner died in 1806, Isabella put up for auction for the next few years, and she had several owners who abused her. John Dumont bought him when she was thirteen, and for the next seventeen years, she worked for him.

In 1817 the State of New York passed a law granting the freedom of slaves born before July 4, 1799. However, the act declared that these slaves could not be released until July 4, 1827. While waiting ten years for her independence, Isabella married a fellow slave named Thomas, with whom she had five children. With her release date, she realized that Dumont was plotting to keep her a maid. In 1826 she escaped leaving her husband and children behind.

Sojourner Truth Early years

Truth was one of the 10 or 12 children born to James and Elizabeth Baumfry (or Bomfry). Colonel Hardenberg bought James and Elizabeth Baumfree from slave traders and placed their family (153 km) north of New York City (153 km) north of New York’s estate, about a mile (153 km) south of New York’s estate in the town of Esopus.

Charles Hardenberg inherited his father’s estate and continues to enslave people as part of his property. When Charles Hardenberg died in 1806, nine-year-old Truth (known as Belle) sold to John Neal, near Kingston, New York, at auction for $ 100 with a flock of sheep.

Until then, the Truth only spoke Dutch. She later described Neely as cruel and harsh, how he beat him daily, and even once with a bundle of rods. In 1808, Nelly sold him for $ 105 to the Torture Keeper Martinas Shriver of Port Ewen, New York, who owned it for 18 months. Then Shriver sold the Truth to John Dumont in West Park, New York, in 1810.

Although this fourth owner kindly addressed her, there considerable tension between Truth and Dumont’s wife, Elizabeth Waring Dumont, who harassed her and made life more difficult.

About 1815, the Truth seen, and the neighbor fell in love with a slave named Robert of a farm. Robert’s owner (Charles Cotton, Jr., landscape painter) forbids their relationship; She did not want people to have children who she did not serve, because she did not own children.

One day Robert was affectionate to see the Truth. When Catton and his son found him, they brutally beat Robert until Dumont finally intervened. Truth was that she never saw Robert again that day and she died a few years later. The experience has surrounded the Truth throughout her life.

The Truth eventually married an elderly slave named Thomas. She had five children: James, his firstborn, who died in infancy, born by Diana (1815), John Dumont and Peter (1821), Elizabeth (1825) and Sophia (ca. 1826), all born to him and Thomas. After becoming united She and Thomas.

Husband and Children of Sojourner Truth

About 1815, Truth fell in love with a slave named Robert a neighboring farm. The two had a daughter, Diana. Robert’s owner forbade the relationship since Diana, and any of the later union-produced children would be the property of John Dumont rather than herself. Robert and Truth never meet each other again.

In 1817, Dumont forced Truth to marry an elderly slave named Thomas. The couple’s marriage resulted in one son, Peter, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Sophia.

Early Years of Freedom

The State of New York, which began discussing the abolition of slavery in 1799, released all slaves on July 4, 1827. The shift for Truth did not come soon enough. After John Dumont relinquished his promise to release the Truth in late 1826, she fled to freedom with his infant daughter, Sophia.

Her other daughter’s son also left behind. Shortly after his escape, Truth came to light that her son Peter, then a five-year-old Alabama man, illegally sold. She took the matter to court and eventually defended Peter’s return from the South. The case is one of the first to successfully challenge a black woman to a white male in a U.S. male court.

The first years of Truth’s independence were marked by a number of strange hardships. Truth converted to Christianity, and in 1829 she moved with her son Peter to New York City, where she worked as a homemaker to Christian evangelist Elijah Pierson. Then she moved to the home of Robert Mathews, better known as the elder Matthias, for whom she also worked as a housekeeper.

Matthews had a growing reputation as a Con Man and a Cool Leader. Shortly after the change in the families of the Truth, Elijah Pierson died. Robert Matthews accused of poisoning Pierson for profiting from her fate, and a couple of called Folkers, who members of his religion, tried to contain the Truth in the crime.

Mathews dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence. Since she had become a favorite subject of the penny press, she decided to go west. In 1835, Truth brought a slander case against the Folgers and won. Mother and son were together until 1839 after Truth’s successful rescue of his son Peter from slavery in Alabama.

At that time Peter landed a job on a whaling ship called the National Nantucket Territory. Truth received three letters from her son between 1840 and 1841. The ship returned to the port in 1842, however, it was not Peter. Sojourner was never heard from him.

“Ain’t I a Woman?”

In May 1851, Truth delivered an impromptu speech at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron That would be known as “Ain’t I a Woman?”

“The first edition of the address was published a month later by the editor of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Bugle, Marius Robinson, who attended the conference and recorded the truth address himself.” Ain’t I a woman?” didn’t even include the question once.


The famous phrase will appear 12 years after the print, as the south-colored version of the speech will be withheld. It is probably unlikely that a resident of New York, Truth, whose first language was Dutch, spoke of the Southern proverb. Even in extinct circles, some of Truth’s views were considered radical.

She sought political equality for all women and punished the abolitionist community for failing to get civil rights for men as well as for blacks.

Other speeches

Northampton Camp Meeting– 1844, Northampton, Massachusetts:

At a camp meeting where she was taking part as a traveling evangelist, a group of “wild youth” disrupted the camp meeting, refused to leave, and threatened to burn the tent.

Sojourner Truth spread panic among worshipers and hid in a tent in his tent, thinking that since she was the only black person present, the crowd would attack him first.

However, he decided to do something by reasoning with himself: As the crowd grew, a female preacher “trembled at the preachers’ stand,” the Truth began to sing on a small upland, “with his most anxious, with all the strength of his most strong voice, of Christ.

Hymn to the resurrection.” Her song, “It was Early in the Morning” slammed the rioters in front of him. They urged her to sing, preach and pray for their entertainment. After singing and preaching for about an hour, Sojourner Truth leaves with them after a final song. The crowd agreed and left the camp meeting.

Abolitionist Convention – (1840s), Boston, Massachusetts:

William Lloyd Garrison invites Sojourner Truth to speak at an annual anti-history conference. Wendell Phillips was about to speak after him since she was known to be a good speaker, so she made her nervous. Satya sang a song, “I am Pleading for My people”, which was her own original composition that was sung by Auld Lang Sai.

Mob Convention – September 7, 1853:

At the conference, the youth greeted her with “a perfect storm,” excitement and curiosity. In response, Sojourner Truth said, You can be as excited as you want, but women will have their rights anyway. You can’t stop us; you can’t stop. Sojourner, like many other public speakers, often adapted his speech with the audience responding to it.

She spoke in favor of women’s rights. She incorporates religious references in her speech, especially the story of Esther. Then she goes on to say that according to the scriptures, women are fighting for their rights today. Furthermore, Sojourner rebukes people for all their violent and rude behavior, reminding them that Shavar says that “respect your father and your mother.”

American Equal Rights Association – (May 9–10, 1867):

Her speech addressed to the American Equal Rights Association and divided into three sessions. Sojourner Truth gave a cheerleader instead of Hesse; now, her more famous reputation has been established. The call advertised her name as one of the conference’s keynote speakers.

In the first part of her speech, she spoke primarily about the rights of black women. Sojourner Truth argued that because the pressure for equal rights has won black men’s new rights, now is the best time to give black women the rights they deserve. Throughout the speech, he emphasized that “we should keep things in the light of things” and feared that once the fight for color rights ceased.

It would take a long time for the idea of racist women to have equal rights. In the second session of Sojourner’s speech, she used a story from the Bible to help strengthen her argument for equal rights for women. She ended her argument by accusing men of being self-centered, saying, “Man is so selfish that she has the rights of women and she has his own rights. Yet she will not give women their rights. She keeps them all to herself.

Truth informed her audience that she like other women, owns her own home, and so she must pay taxes. Even so, they were still unable to vote because they were women. Slave black women created to do hard manual work as road construction.

She argues that if these women are capable of performing such acts, they should be allowed to vote because voting must surely be more comfortable than building a road.

Eighth Anniversary of Negro Freedom – (New Year’s Day, 1871):

On this occasion, the Boston papers related that “… there is rarely an occasion of greater interest or greater general interest sitting. She started lecturing about her own life with some background.

Truth describes how her mother told her to pray to God so that she could have good masters and concubines. She wants to say this about how her masters were not good to her, how to whip her for not understanding English, and why she would question God Shawar about why she did not treat his masters well with her.

Truth admits to the audience that she once hated white people. But she says that once she met her final master, Jesus, she filled with love for everyone. Once the slaves released, she informed the crowd that she knew his prayers had answered.

The last part of Sojourner’s speech brings his main focus. Some free slaves were living on government assistance at that time, paid for by taxpayers.

She declares that for this man of color, it is nothing better than a member of her audience. She then proposed that the blacks gave their own land. Because a section of the population in the South a rebel who dissatisfied with the abolition of slavery, the territory of the United States of America was not very suitable for people of color.

She suggested that people of color should be given land in the west to build and improve homes.

Second Annual Convention of the American Woman Suffrage Association– Boston, 1871:

In a brief speech, She argued that women’s rights were not only for their own well-being, “but for the welfare of the entire creation, not only for women but for all men on earth. They were their mothers.”

Wins court case to regain son

During the next two years, three important events took place in Isabel’s life. Truth found refuge in Maria and Isaac Van Wagenen, who bought him from Dumont and gave him freedom.

She then gained a religious experience, claiming that she could speak directly to God. Eventually, she sued to recover his son, Peter, who illegally sold to a gardener in Alabama.

In 1828, with the help of a lawyer, Isabella became the first black woman to take a white male to court and win. Soon after, Isabella moved to New York City with Peter and began following Elijah Pearson, who claimed to be a prophet.

Soon she joined by another religious figure, Matthias, who claimed to be the Messiah. They formed a community known as the “Kingdom”, and in 1833 moved to Sing Sing (renamed Ossining) in southeast New York. Isabella separated from them and away from their activities. But when Matthias was arrested for killing Pearson, she was alleged to have been a colleague.

A white couple, Folgers, also claim that Isabella tried to poison them. The second time she went to court. She found innocent in the Matthias case and has decided to sue Folgers. She won in 1835, becoming the first black person to win this national lawsuit against a white man.

On a mission

In 1856 Sojourner bought a neighboring lot in Northampton, but She did not keep the new property much longer. On September 3, 1857, she sold all her assets to the new and old Daniel Ives and moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, where she joined former members of the Millerite movement who formed the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The antisemitic movement began in Michigan and Ohio. Here, she also joined a group of Michigan abolitionists, the Progressive Friends, a nucleus of people who had already met at a national conference.

According to the 1860 census, her family in Harmonia included her daughter Elizabeth Banks (age 35) and her grandson James Caldwell (misspelled as “Calvin”; age 16) and Sammy Banks (age 8). During the Civil War, the True Union helped recruit black troops for the army.

Her grandson James Caldwell enlisted in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. In 1864, Truth appointed by the National Freedmen’s Relief Association in Washington, DC. Where she worked tirelessly to improve the condition of African-Americans. She met President Abraham Lincoln in October of that year.

In 1865, while working at the Freeman’s Hospital in Washington, Truth boarded a streetcar to force their separation. The achievement of writing a song called “The Valent Soldiers” for the 1st Michigan Colored Regiment. It composed during the war and known to have sung in Detroit and Washington, DC. It is sung in “John Brown’s Body” or “Song of the Republic War.”

Although Sojourner claims to have written these words, it has disputed (see “The First Arkansas Marching Society”).

In 1867, Sojourner moved from Harmonia to Battle Creek. She traveled to western New York and visited with the Amy Post and has continued on voyages across the East Coast In 1868. In a lecture busy in Florence, Massachusetts. When she returned from a very exhausting trip when summoned to speak the Truth. She stood up and said, Kids, I’m here same the rest of you, to learn what I become to say.

In 1870, Truth sought to secure the grant of land to former slaves from the federal government, a project he pursued for seven years without success. While in DC, Washington, she met with President Ulysses S. Grant in the White House.

In 1872, Sojourner returned to Battle Creek to campaign for the re-election of Grant’s presidency, even trying to vote on election day. But She rejected at the polling station. Sojourner’s Truth talked about abolition, women’s rights, prison reform, and campaigned against the Michigan Legislature against the death penalty. Not everyone welcomed her sermons and speeches, but among many influential people, she had many friends and strong support.

Sojourner Truth’s Later Years

Sojourner moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, In 1867, where some of his daughters lived. She continues to speak out against discrimination and in favor of women’s suffrage. She particularly concerned that some civil rights leaders, like Frederick Douglass, had given equal rights to black men in the case of black women.

Sojourner Truth died November 26, 1883, at home. Records show that although she was 86 years old, his memorial tomb indicates that she was 105 years old. The words inscribed on his monument are, “Is God Dead?
,”. Sojourner has left a legacy of bravery, trust and struggling for what is right and honorable. But she maintains the legacy of words and songs, including his autobiography, The Narrative of Sajona Truth. She directed Olive Gilbert in 1850 as she never learned to read or write.

Probably the best of Christianity’s life and the struggle for equality best summed up in his own words: Kids, who made your skin white? Was it not Shavar? Who blacked me? Wasn’t it the same not sharp? Do I blame my skin for black?… Doesn’t God love color kids as well as white kids? And did not the same Savior die to save one and the other? “


  1. What does Sojourner Truth mean?


  2. Why did Sojourner Truth change her name?

    Given the name Isabella at birth,  Sojourner Truth was born in 1797 in Harley, New York. He was enslaved for about eighty-eight years of his life. As the “property” of several slave owners, when she was ten years old, Isabella was sold for $100 and some sheep. Dutch was his first language and he was said to have spoken Dutch accents to reminisce about his life. Even though he was unable to read, he knew the truth from the heart. As an abolitionist and travel preacher, Isabella understood the importance of fighting for independence. After converting to Christianity, he adopted the name Sojourner’s Truth: This new name reflects a new goal to spread the word of God and speak out against slavery.

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