17 pages 34 minutes read

Sojourner Truth

Ain't I A Woman

Nonfiction | Essay / Speech | Adult | Published in 1851

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Character Analysis

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth was born enslaved in New York State in 1797. She was named Isabella Baumfree—a name she would change in 1843. Both her parents and her enslavers spoke Dutch. At the age of nine, her enslavers sold her, separating her from her family. In 1827, after years of cruel treatment, she ran away with her infant daughter, after which an abolitionist family helped her purchase her freedom. Abolitionists also aided her in suing for the return of her five-year-old son after he was illegally sold into slavery in Alabama.

After years of working for a minister in New York City and participating in the religious revivals of the 1830s, Truth felt called to sojourn—or travel—and tell her truth. Isabella Baumfree adopted her new name, Sojourner Truth. Truth could not read or write at the time of her 1851 speech. The written versions are transcriptions by other people, meaning that her precise words are lost to history. However, the reports paint a clear picture of a woman advocating for suffrage and abolition based on her experiences as a formerly enslaved woman in the United States of America.