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Sojourner Truth

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    Sojourner Truth's Life

  • Sojourner Truth is born

    Sojourner Truth is born
    Sojourner was born in 1797 to James and Betsey, slaves of Colonel Ardinburgh, a man of the Low Dutch class of people in Hurley, Ulster County, New York. Her birth name was Isabella Baumfree. The name, "Bomefree", (as she pronounced it) is low Dutch for tree, and came from her father who was very tall and straight.
  • 9 years old - sold to John Nealy

    9 years old - sold to John Nealy
    She was separated from her parents when she was nine years old. She was sold to John Nealy for one hundred dollars. The Nealy's could only speak English, and Isabella could only speak Dutch. She received a lot of beatings because she didn't understand their demands. One example of her trials in life follows. One morning she was told to go to the barn and there she was beaten by her master with a bundle of rods that had been in the fire. He tied her hands and beat her until her skin was lacerated
  • Sold to John Dumont

    In 1810, she was sold to Mr. John J. Dumont. Isabella had a great desire to please Mr. Dumont. While under the ownership of Mr. Dumont, Isabella "married" a fellow bondsman named Thomas and had five children with him. This ceremony was performed by another slave and unrecognized by any civil law. She was a great example of honesty and hard work to her children. She was a field hand, milkmaid, cleaning woman, weaver, cook, and wet nurse (sometimes being required to nurse white babies while hers w
  • Emancipation Act of 1827

    Emancipation Act of 1827
    The State of New York passed a bill (the Emancipation Act of 1827) that stated blacks would be free on July 4, 1827, if they were born before July 4, 1799. Mr. Dumont told Isabella that she would be freed then. One of her hands was diseased, so he refused to free her at the appointed time, saying that her hand had diminished her usefulness.
  • Sojourner Escapes Dumont

    Sojourner Escapes Dumont
    Isabella soon after took her infant, and escaped to Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Van Wagener's. Mr. Dumont was kind and liked Isabella very much. He came looking for her, but Isaac didn't support slavery and didn't want Isabella to be forced to leave, so he paid Mr. Dumont $20 to hire her for one year. Isabella took on the surname, Van Wagener (as was customary for slaves).
  • Sojourner began traveling and preaching

    Sojourner began traveling and preaching
    June 1, 1843, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth and told friends, "The Spirit calls me [East], and I must go." She wandered in relative obscurity, depending on the kindness of strangers. In 1844, still liking the utopian cooperative ideal, she joined the Northampton Association of Education and Industry in Massachusetts. This group of 210 members lived on 500 acres of farmland, raising livestock, running grist and saw mills, and operating a silk factory. Unlike the Kingdom, the Association
  • Sojourner dictates her memories into a book

    Sojourner dictates her memories into a book
    she began dictating her memoirs to Olive Gilbert, another Association member. The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave was published privately by William Lloyd Garrison in 1850. It gave her an income and increased her speaking engagements, where she sold copies of the book. She spoke about anti-slavery and women's rights, often giving personal testimony about her experiences as a slave.
  • Ohio Women's Rights Convention

    Ohio Women's Rights Convention
    she gave her most famous speech -- with the legendary phrase, "Ain't I a Woman?" : "That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud puddles, or gives me any best place, and ain't I a woman? ... I have plowed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me -- and ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man (when I could get