Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
Orator, Women’s Rights Activist
Born Isabella in 1797 in Ulster County, New York, she ran away from slavery in 1843 and changed her name to Sojourner Truth. At a time when oratory was fine art, Sojourner Truth, through her strong character and acid intelligence, was among the best and most famous anti-slavery speakers of her day. Her deep, bass voice, her fierce intelligence, sense of drama, and the utter sincerity of her speeches quickly spread her fame throughout the North and astounded the unbelieving South. Frequently, efforts were made to silence her. She was beaten and stoned, but nothing could stop her. Her speeches touched the hearts of many and led to the strengthening of the abolitionist movement in the United States. One of her most famous lines was delivered in response to a man who questioned her womanhood. Recounting the trials and tribulations that the slave woman suffered and speaking as a mother of children, Sojourner Truth asked, “Ain’t I a woman!” In October, 1864 she addressed an audience with President Abraham Lincoln at the White House. She died on November 23, 1883 at her home in Battle Creek, Michigan.