Sojourner Truth Wiki, Sojourner Truth Biography
Sojourner Truth Wiki: Sojourner Truth born Isabella (Belle) Baumfree 1797 – November 26, 1883) was an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Sojourner Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, Ulster County, New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. After going to court to recover her son in 1828, she became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man.
She gave herself the name Sojourner Sojourner Truth in 1843 after she became convinced that God had called her to leave the city and go into the countryside “testifying the hope that was in her”. Her best-known speech was delivered extemporaneously, in 1851, at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. The speech became widely known during the Civil War by the title “Ain’t I a Woman?,” a variation of the original speech re-written by someone else using a stereotypical Southern dialect; whereas Sojourner Sojourner Truth was from New York and grew up speaking Dutch as her first language. During the Civil War, Sojourner Truth helped recruit black troops for the Union Army; after the war, she tried unsuccessfully to secure land grants from the federal government for former slaves (summarized as the promise of Forty acres and a mule).
In 2014, Sojourner Truth was included in Smithsonian magazine’s list of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time”.
Sojourner Truth Early years
The Sojourner Truth was one of the ten or twelve children born to James and Elizabeth Baumfree (or Bomefree). Colonel Hardenbergh bought James and Elizabeth Baumfree from slave traders and kept their family at his estate in a big hilly area called by the Dutch name Swartekill (just north of present-day Rifton), in the town of Esopus, New York, 95 miles (153 km) north of New York City. Charles Hardenbergh inherited his father’s estate and continued to enslave people as a part of that estate’s property.
When Charles Hardenbergh died in 1806, nine-year-old Sojourner Truth (known as Belle), was sold at an auction with a flock of sheep for $100 to John Neely, near Kingston, New York. Until that time, Sojourner Truth spoke only Dutch. She later described Neely as cruel and harsh, relating how he beat her daily and once even with a bundle of rods. Neely sold her in 1808, for $105, to Martinus Schryver of Port Ewen, a tavern keeper, who owned her for eighteen months. Schryver sold her in 1810 to John Dumont of West Park, New York. Although this fourth owner was kindly disposed toward her, considerable tension existed between Sojourner Truth and Dumont’s wife, Elizabeth Waring Dumont, who harassed her and made her life more difficult.
Around 1815, Sojourner Truth met and fell in love with a slave named Robert from a neighboring farm. Robert’s owner (Charles Catton, Jr., a landscape painter) forbade their relationship; he did not want the people he enslaved to have children with people he was not enslaved, because he would not own the children. One day Robert snuck over to see Sojourner Truth. When Catton and his son found him, they savagely beat Robert until Dumont finally intervened. Sojourner Truth never saw Robert again after that day and he died a few years later – the experience haunted Sojourner Truth throughout her life. Sojourner Truth eventually married an older slave named Thomas. She bore five children: James, her firstborn, who died in childhood, Diana (1815), the result of a rape by either Robert or John Dumont, and Peter (1821), Elizabeth (1825), and Sophia (ca. 1826), all born after she and Thomas united.
The Result of Freedom Sojourner Truth
1843 was a turning point for Sojourner Truth. She became a Methodist, and on June 1, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth. She told friends: “The Spirit calls me, and I must go” and left to make her way traveling and preaching about the abolition of slavery. At that time, Sojourner Truth began attending Millerite Adventist camp meetings. However, that did not last since Jesus failed to appear in 1843 and then again in 1844. Like many others disappointed, Sojourner Truth distanced herself from her Millerite friends for a while.
In 1844, she joined the Northampton Association of Education and Industry in Northampton, Massachusetts. Founded by abolitionists, the organization supported women’s rights and religious tolerance as well as pacifism. There were, in its four-and-a-half year history, a total of 240 members, though no more than 120 at any one time. They lived on 470 acres (1.9 km2), raising livestock, running a sawmill, a gristmill, and a silk factory. While there, Sojourner Truth met William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and David Ruggles. In 1846, the group disbanded, unable to support itself. In 1845, she joined the household of George Benson, the brother-in-law of William Lloyd Garrison. In 1849, she visited John Dumont before he moved west.
Sojourner Truth started dictating her memoirs to her friend Olive Gilbert, and in 1850 William Lloyd Garrison privately published her book, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave. That same year, she purchased a home in what would become the village of Florence in Northampton for $300, and spoke at the first National Women’s Rights Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1854, with proceeds from sales of the Narrative and cartes-de-visite entitled “I sell the shadow to support the substance,” she paid off the mortgage held by her friend from the Community, Samuel L. Hill.
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