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Sojourner Truth (Isabella Baumfree)


Sojourner Truth (Isabella Baumfree)

1797 - 1883


Born: Isabella Baumfree (Sojourner Truth) in Ulster County, New York. 1797

Sojourner Truth was born in 1797 in Ulster County, a Dutch settlement in upstate New York. Her given name was Isabella Baumfree. She was sold from her family around the age of eleven. She was sold several times and suffered many hardships under slavery.

Forced to submit to the will of her third master, John Dumont, Isabella married an older slave named Thomas. Thomas and Isabella had five children. Dumont had promised Isabella freedom a year before the state emancipation. When Dumont reneged on his promise, Isabella ran away with her infant son in 1828.

Isabella eventually settled in New York City, working as a domestic for several religious communes. Isabella Baumfree changed her name to Sojourner Truth and walked through Long Island and Connecticut, preaching "God's truth and plan for salvation” she joined the utopian community "The Northampton Association for Education and Industry, "where she met and worked with abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass and Olive Gilbert. Her dictated memoirs were published in 1850 as The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave.

She eventually added abolitionism and women's suffrage to her oratory, often giving personal testimony about her experiences as a slave. In 1851, she spoke at a women's covention in Akron, Ohio. The legendary phrase, "Ain't I a Woman?" was associated with Truth after this speech.

After the Civil War ended, she worked tirelessly to aid the newly-freed southern slaves. She even attempted to petition Congress to give the ex-slaves land in the "new West." Truth continued preaching and lecturing until ill health forced her to retire.

She died November 1883 in Battle Creek, Michigan

Last Modified: Thursday May 20, 2010


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