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.

Contents

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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