Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth was born a slave named Isabella Baumfree in southeastern New York. The future abolitionist had several owners during her childhood—many of them cruel—before, at age 13, ending up the property of John Dumont. For 17 years, she worked for him and then escaped. She made her way to the home of Isaac and Maria Van Wagener—whose home she said God showed her in a vision. The Quaker couple bought her from Dumont and then freed her.


Excerpt from the article…


The above link will take you to the two main written versions of Sojourner Truth’s 1851 speech widely known today as “Ain’t I a Woman” even though that phrase doesn’t appear in the earliest version.

The original, … was delivered by Sojourner and transcribed by Marius Robinson, a journalist, who was in the audience at the Woman’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio on May 29, 1851. And Frances Gage’s version [a white woman abolitionist] is on the right, written 12 years later and published in 1863. While Frances Gage changed most of Sojourner’s words and falsely attributed a southern slave dialect to Sojourner’s 1863 version, it is clear the origin of Gage’s speech comes from Sojourner’s original 1851 speech.


Excerpt from the article…


“The Lord has made me a sign unto this nation, an’ I go round a’testifyin’ an’ showin’ on’em their sins agin my people. …

According to her dictated autobiography, one day “God revealed himself to her, with all the suddenness of a flash of lightning, showing her, ‘in the twinkling of an eye, that he was all over,’ that he pervaded the universe, ‘and that there was no place where God was not.'”

“I jes’ walked round an’ round in a dream,” the former slave later told Stowe. “Jesus loved me! I knowed it, I felt it.””


Excerpt from the article…


Around 1815, at age 18 Isabella [Sojourner Truth] fell in love with Robert, a slave from a neighboring farm. The two had a daughter, Diana. Robert’s owner forbade the relationship, since Diana and any subsequent children produced by the union would be the property of John Dumont. His owner beat him savagely (“bruising and mangling his head and face”), bound him and dragged him away. Robert and Isabella never saw each other again.

In 1817, Dumont compelled Isabella to marry an older slave named Thomas. Their marriage produced a son, Peter (1822), and two daughters, Elizabeth (1825) and Sophia (1826). Isabella and her husband were promised their freedom for faithful service on July 4, 1826, one year before all adult slaves in New York would be freed by the state. Dumont reneged on his promise.

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