Sojourner Truth 1797-1883

Curriculum: Ain't I a Woman?

Sojourner Truth was born into slavery about 1797 in Ulster County, New York. Known as Isabella, her parents were James and Betsey, the property of Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh. As a child she spoke only low Dutch and, like most slaves, never learned to read or write. About 1815 Isabella married Thomas, a fellow slave, and bore four live children and a fifth child who may have died in infancy. Isabella was sold to four more owners, until she finally walked to freedom in 1826, carrying her infant daughter, Sophia.

She settled in New York City until 1843, when she changed her name to Sojourner Truth, announcing she would travel the land as an itinerant preacher, telling the truth and working against injustice. Probably her most famous address, known as "Ain't I A Woman," was made at a Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, on May 28, 1851. Sojourner asserted that women deserved equal rights with men because they were equal in capability to men. Truth was one of the foremost leaders of the abolition movement and an early advocate of women's rights. Although she began her career as an abolitionist, the reform causes she sponsored were broad and varied, including prison reform, property rights and universal suffrage. 

With excerpts from www.sojournertruth.org