Sojourner Truth

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Sojourner Truth (pronounced /soʊˈdʒɜrnər ˈtruːθ/) (c. 1797 – November 26, 1883) was the self-given name, from 1843, of Isabella Baumfree, an African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist. Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, New York. Her best-known speech, Ain't I a Woman?, was delivered in 1851 at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.


Early years

Truth was one of thirteen children born to James and Elizabeth Baumfree. James Baumfree was a slave captured from the Gold Coast in modern-day Ghana. Elizabeth Baumfree, also known as Mau-Mau Bet to children who knew her, was the daughter of African slaves from the Coast of Guinea.[1] The Baumfree family were slaves of Colonel Hardenbergh. The Hardenbergh estate was in a hilly area called by the Dutch name Swartekill (just north of present-day Rifton), in the town of Esopus, New York, 95 miles north of New York City.[2] After the colonel's death, ownership of the family slaves passed to his son, Charles Hardenbergh.[3]

After the death of Charles Hardenbergh in 1806, Truth, known as Belle, was sold at an auction. She was about 9 years old and was included with a flock of sheep for $100 to John Neely, near Kingston, New York. Until she was sold, Truth spoke only Dutch.[4] She suffered many hardships at the hands of Neely, whom she later described as cruel and harsh and who once beat her with a bundle of rods. Truth previously said Neely raped and beat her daily. Neely sold her in 1808, for $105, to Martinus Schryver of Port Ewen, a tavern keeper, who owned her for 18 months. Schryver sold her in 1810, for $175, to John Dumont of West Park, New York.[5] Although this fourth owner was kindly disposed toward her, his wife found numerous ways to harass Truth and make her life more difficult.[3]

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