Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Huh! What the…

I didn’t hear about things like dis in da gubement history class…  Lawrd hab mercie!   

Sojourner Truth was a New York slave sold at auction with a flock of sheep. She was an African American abolitionist and women's rights activist who escaped from slavery in New York in 1826. She began as an itinerant preacher and became a nationally known advocate for equality and justice, sponsoring a variety of social reforms, including women's property rights, universal suffrage and prison reform. 

She was born Isabella Baumfree in 1797 on the estate of Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh in Swartekill, a Dutch settlement in upstate New York. She was one of 13 children born to Elizabeth and James Baumfree, who were slaves on the Hardenbergh plantation. Both the Baumfrees and the Hardenberghs spoke Dutch in their daily lives. After the colonel's death, ownership of the Baumfrees passed to his son Charles. 

After the death of Charles Hardenbergh in 1806, the Baumfrees were separated. Nine-year-old Isabella was sold at an auction with a flock of sheep for $100 to John Neely, whose family only spoke English. Isabella still spoke only Dutch, and her new owners BEAT HER REPEADEDLY for not understanding their commands. 

Until old age intervened, Truth spoke passionately against slavery and social injustices. She was an outspoken opponent of capital punishment, testifying before the Michigan state legislature against the practice. She also championed prison reform in Michigan and across the country. While always controversial, Truth was embraced by a community of reformers. 

Sojourner Truth died at her home in Battle Creek, Michigan, on November 26, 1883. She was buried in Battle Creek's Oak Hill Cemetery alongside to her grandson. 

Portions taken from Civil War Women’s blog…

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