Truth, Sojourner

Sojourner Truth, (1797?-1883), was the name used by Isabella Baumfree, one of the best-known American abolitionists of her day. She was the first black woman orator to speak out against slavery. She traveled widely through New England and the Midwest on speaking tours. Her deep voice, quick wit, and inspiring faith helped spread her fame.



PHOTO: Sojourner TruthBaumfree was born a slave in Ulster County, New York. She became free in 1828 under a New York law that banned slavery. In 1843, she experienced what she regarded as a command from God to preach. She took the name Sojourner Truth and began lecturing in New York. Her early speeches were based on the belief that people best show love for God by love and concern for others. She soon began directing her speeches toward the abolition of slavery.

In 1864, Sojourner Truth visited President Abraham Lincoln in the White House. She stayed in Washington, D.C., and worked to improve living conditions for blacks there. She also helped find jobs and homes for slaves who had escaped from the South to Washington. In the 1870's, she tried to persuade the federal government to set aside undeveloped lands in the West as farms for blacks. But her plan won no government support.