And ain't I a woman? Over the next 10 years, Truth spoke before dozens, perhaps hundreds, of audiences. From to , Truth worked with Marius Robinson, the editor of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Bugle , and traveled around that state speaking.
Northampton Camp Meeting —, Northampton, Massachusetts: At a camp meeting where she was participating as an itinerant preacher, a band of "wild young men" disrupted the camp meeting, refused to leave, and threatened to burn down the tents. Truth caught the sense of fear pervading the worshipers and hid behind a trunk in her tent, thinking that since she was the only black person present, the mob would attack her first.
However, she reasoned with herself and resolved to do something: They urged her to sing, preach, and pray for their entertainment. After singing songs and preaching for about an hour, Truth bargained with them to leave after one final song. The mob agreed and left the camp meeting. Abolitionist Convention —s, Boston, Massachusetts: William Lloyd Garrison invited Sojourner Truth to give a speech at an annual antislavery convention. Wendell Phillips was supposed to speak after her, which made her nervous since he was known as such a good orator.
Mob Convention —September 7, At the convention, young men greeted her with "a perfect storm," hissing and groaning. In response, Truth said, "You may hiss as much as you please, but women will get their rights anyway.
You can't stop us, neither". In her speech, Sojourner speaks out for women's rights. She incorporates religious references in her speech, particularly the story of Esther. She then goes on to say that, just as women in scripture, women today are fighting for their rights. Moreover, Sojourner scolds the crowd for all their hissing and rude behavior, reminding them that God says to "Honor thy father and thy mother. American Equal Rights Association —May 9—10, Her speech was addressed to the American Equal Rights Association , and divided into three sessions.
Sojourner was received with loud cheers instead of hisses, now that she had a better-formed reputation established. The Call had advertised her name as one of the main convention speakers. Sojourner argued that because the push for equal rights had led to black men winning new rights, now was the best time to give black women the rights they deserve too.
Throughout her speech she kept stressing that "we should keep things going while things are stirring" and fears that once the fight for colored rights settles down, it would take a long time to warm people back up to the idea of colored women's having equal rights. In the second sessions of Sojourner's speech, she utilized a story from the Bible to help strengthen her argument for equal rights for women.
She ended her argument by accusing men of being self-centered, saying, "man is so selfish that he has got women's rights and his own too, and yet he won't give women their rights. He keeps them all to himself. Sojourner told her audience that she owned her own house, as did other women, and must therefore pay taxes. Nevertheless, they were still unable to vote because they were women.
Black women who were enslaved were made to do hard manual work, such as building roads. Sojourner argues that if these women were able to perform such tasks, then they should be allowed to vote because surely voting is easier than building roads. On this occasion the Boston papers related that " Every available space of sitting and standing room was crowded". Sojourner recounts how her mother told her to pray to God that she may have good masters and mistresses.
She goes on to retell how her masters were not good to her, about how she was whipped for not understanding English, and how she would question God why he had not made her masters be good to her. Sojourner admits to the audience that she had once hated white people, but she says once she met her final master, Jesus, she was filled with love for everyone. Once enslaved folks were emancipated, she tells the crowd she knew her prayers had been answered.
That last part of Sojourner's speech brings in her main focus. Some freed enslaved people were living on government aid at that time, paid for by taxpayers. Sojourner announces that this is not any better for those colored people than it is for the members of her audience.
She then proposes that black people are given their own land. Because a portion of the South's population contained rebels that were unhappy with the abolishment of slavery, that region of the United States was not well suited for colored people. She goes on to suggest that colored people be given land out west to build homes and prosper on.
In a brief speech, Truth argued that women's rights were essential, not only to their own well-being, but "for the benefit of the whole creation, not only the women, but all the men on the face of the earth, for they were the mother of them. In , Truth bought a neighboring lot in Northampton, but she did not keep the new property for long. On September 3, , she sold all her possessions, new and old, to Daniel Ives and moved to Battle Creek, Michigan , where she rejoined former members of the Millerite Movement who had formed the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Antislavery movements had begun early in Michigan and Ohio. Here, she also joined the nucleus of the Michigan abolitionists, the Progressive Friends, some who she had already met at national conventions. Her grandson, James Caldwell, enlisted in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment.
In October of that year, she met President Abraham Lincoln. Truth is credited with writing a song, " The Valiant Soldiers ", for the 1st Michigan Colored Regiment ; it was said to be composed during the war and sung by her in Detroit and Washington, D. In , Truth moved from Harmonia to Battle Creek.
In , she traveled to western New York and visited with Amy Post , and continued traveling all over the East Coast. At a speaking engagement in Florence, Massachusetts , after she had just returned from a very tiring trip, when Truth was called upon to speak she stood up and said "Children, I have come here like the rest of you, to hear what I have to say.
In , Truth tried to secure land grants from the federal government to former enslaved people, a project she pursued for seven years without success. While in Washington, D. Grant in the White House. In , she returned to Battle Creek, became active in Grant's presidential re-election campaign, and even and tried to vote on Election Day, but was turned away at the polling place.
Truth spoke about abolition, women's rights, prison reform, and preached to the Michigan Legislature against capital punishment. White , and Susan B. The clerks, unable to preserve their gravity any longer, burst into an uproarious laugh; and one of them inquired of lawyer Chip of what use it could be to make her swear. He then made her comprehend just what he wished her to do, and she took a lawful oath, as far as the outward ceremony could make it one. All can judge how far she understood its spirit and meaning.
He now gave her a writ, directing her to take it to the constable at New Paltz, and have him serve it on Solomon Gedney. She obeyed, walking, or rather trotting , in her haste, some eight or nine miles.
But while the constable, through mistake, served the writ on a brother of the real culprit, Solomon Gedney slipped into a boat, and was nearly across the North River, on whose banks they were standing, before the dull Dutch constable was aware of his mistake.
Solomon Gedney, meanwhile, consulted a lawyer, who advised him to go to Alabama and bring back the boy, otherwise it might cost him fourteen years' imprisonment, and a thousand dollars in cash.
By this time, it is hoped he began to feel that selling slaves unlawfully was not so good a business as he had wished to find it. He secreted himself till due preparations could be made, and soon set sail for Alabama. Steamboats and railroads had not then annihilated distance to the extent they now have, and although he left in the fall of the year, spring came ere he returned, bringing the boy with him—but holding on to him as his property.
It had ever been Isabella's prayer, not only that her son might be returned, but that he should be delivered from bondage, and into her own hands, lest he should be punished out of mere spite to her, who was so greatly annoying and irritating to her oppressors; and if her suit was gained, her very triumph would add vastly to their irritation.
She again sought advice of Esquire Chip, whose counsel was, that the aforesaid constable serve the before-mentioned writ upon the right person. Esquire Chip next informed his client, that her case must now lie over till the next session of the court, some months in the future. I cannot wait; I must have him now, whilst he is to be had. But in this instance, he was mistaken in his reckoning. She assured him, that she had not been seeking money, neither would money satisfy her; it was her son, and her son alone she wanted, and her son she must have.
Neither could she wait court, not she. The lawyer used his every argument to convince her, that she ought to be very thankful for what they had done for her; that it was a great deal, and it was but reasonable that she should now wait patiently the time of the court. Yet she never felt, for a moment, like being influenced by these suggestions.
She felt confident she was to receive a full and literal answer to her prayer, the burden of which had been—'O Lord, give my son into my hands, and that speedily! Let not the spoilers have him any longer. She had a short time previous learned that Jesus was a Saviour, and an intercessor; and she thought that if Jesus could but be induced to plead for her in the present trial, God would listen to him , though he were wearied of her importunities.
To him, of course, she applied. As she was walking about, scarcely knowing whither she went, asking within herself, 'Who will show me any good, and lend a helping hand in this matter,' she was accosted by a perfect stranger, and one whose name she has never learned, in the following terms: He said, 'Look here!
I'll tell you what you'd better do. Do you see that stone house yonder? Don't give him peace till he does. I feel sure if you press him, he'll do it for you. When she had told him her story, in her impassioned manner, he looked at her a few moments, as if to ascertain if he were contemplating a new variety of the genus homo, and then told her, if she would give him five dollars, he would get her son for her, in twenty-four hours. When inquired of by people what she had done with the overplus, she answered, 'Oh, I got it for lawyer Demain, and I gave it to him.
She was perfectly willing he should have every coin she could raise, if he would but restore her lost son to her. Moreover, the five dollars he required were for the remuneration of him who should go after her son and his master, and not for his own services. The lawyer now renewed his promise, that she should have her son in twenty-four hours. But Isabella, having no idea of this space of time, went several times in a day, to ascertain if her son had come.
Once, when the servant opened the door and saw her, she said, in a tone expressive of much surprise, 'Why, this woman's come again! When the lawyer appeared, he told her the twenty-four hours would not expire till the next morning; if she would call then, she would see her son.
The next morning saw Isabel at the lawyer's door, while he was yet in his bed. He now assured her it was morning till noon; and that before noon her son would be there, for he had sent the famous 'Matty Styles' after him, who would not fail to have the boy and his master on hand in due season, either dead or alive; of that he was sure. Telling her she need not come again; he would himself inform her of their arrival.
After dinner, he appeared at Mr. Rutzer's, a place the lawyer had procured for her, while she awaited the arrival of her boy, assuring her, her son had come; but that he stoutly denied having any mother, or any relatives in that place; and said, 'she must go over and identify him.
When he was questioned relative to the bad scar on his forehead, he said, 'Fowler's horse hove him. But the boy persisted in denying his mother, and clinging to his master, saying his mother did not live in such a place as that. However, they allowed the mother to identify her son; and Esquire Demain pleaded that he claimed the boy for her, on the ground that he had been sold out of the State, contrary to the laws in such cases made and provided—spoke of the penalties annexed to said crime, and of the sum of money the delinquent was to pay, in case any one chose to prosecute him for the offence he had committed.
When the pleading was at an end, Isabella understood the Judge to declare, as the sentence of the Court, that the 'boy be delivered into the hands of the mother—having no other master, no other controller, no other conductor, but his mother. And it was some time before lawyer Demain, the clerks, and Isabella, could collectively succeed in calming the child's fears, and in convincing him that Isabella was not some terrible monster, as he had for the last months, probably, been trained to believe; and who, in taking him away from his master, was taking him from all good, and consigning him to all evil.
When at last kind words and bon-bons had quieted his fears, and he could listen to their explanations, he said to Isabella— 'Well, you do look like my mother used to'; and she was soon able to make him comprehend some of the obligations he was under, and the relation he stood in, both to herself and his master.
She commenced as soon as practicable to examine the boy, and found, to her utter astonishment, that from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, the callosities and indurations on his entire body were most frightful to behold.
His back she described as being like her fingers, as she laid them side by side. He answered, 'It is where Fowler whipped, kicked, and beat me. Oh Lord, "render unto them double" for all this!
Pete, how did you bear it? She had a little baby, and Fowler cut her till the milk as well as blood ran down her body. You would scare to see Phillis, mammy. Sometimes I crawled under the stoop, mammy, the blood running all about me, and my back would stick to the boards; and sometimes Miss Eliza would come and grease my sores, when all were abed and asleep.
As soon as possible she procured a place for Peter, as tender of locks, at a place called Wahkendall, near Greenkills. After he was thus disposed of, she visited her sister Sophia, who resided at Newberg, and spent the winter in several different families where she was acquainted. She remained some time in the family of a Mr.
Latin, who was a relative of Solomon Gedney; and the latter, when he found Isabel with his cousin, used all his influence to persuade him she was a great mischief-maker and a very troublesome person,—that she had put him to some hundreds of dollars expense, by fabricating lies about him, and especially his sister and her family, concerning her boy, when the latter was living so like a gentleman with them; and, for his part, he would not advise his friends to harbor or encourage her.
However, his cousins, the Latins, could not see with the eyes of his feelings, and consequently his words fell powerless on them, and they retained her in their service as long as they had aught for her to do.
She then went to visit her former master, Dumont. She had scarcely arrived there, when Mr. Waring entered, and seeing Isabel, pleasantly accosted her, and asked her 'what she was driving at now-a-days. She very gladly assented.
Waring had done in the courthouse—for he was the uncle of Solomon Gedney, and attended the trial we have described—and declared 'that she was a fool to; he wouldn't do it.
She had not worked long in this frame of mind, before a young daughter of Mr. Waring rushed into the rooms exclaiming, with uplifted hands—'Heavens and earth, Isabella! Fowler's murdered Cousin Eliza! The child further informed her that a letter had arrived by mail bringing the news. Immediately after this announcement, Solomon Gedney and his mother came in, going direct to Mrs.
Waring's room, where she soon heard tones as of some one reading. She thought something said to her inwardly, 'Go up stairs and hear. But on this occasion, Isabella says, she walked in at the door, shut it, placed her back against it, and listened.
She saw them and heard them read—'He knocked her down with his fist, jumped on her with his knees, broke her collar-bone, and tore out her wind-pipe! He then attempted his escape, but was pursued and arrested, and put in an iron bank for safe-keeping!
If this narrative should ever meet the eye of those innocent sufferers for another's guilt, let them not be too deeply affected by the relation; but, placing their confidence in Him who sees the end from the beginning, and controls the results, rest secure in the faith, that, although they may physically suffer for the sins of others, if they remain but true to themselves, their highest and more enduring interests can never suffer from such a cause.
This relation should be suppressed for their sakes, were it not even now so often denied, that slavery is fast undermining all true regard for human life. We know this one instance is not a demonstration to the contrary; but, adding this to the lists of tragedies that weekly come up to us through the Southern mails, may we not admit them as proofs irrefragable?
The newspapers confirmed this account of the terrible affair. When Isabella had heard the letter, all being too much absorbed in their own feelings to take note of her, she returned to her work, her heart swelling with conflicting emotions.
She was awed at the dreadful deed; she mourned the fate of the loved Eliza, who had in such an undeserved and barbarous manner been put away from her labors and watchings as a tender mother; and, 'last though not least,' in the development of her character and spirit, her heart bled for the afflicted relatives; even those of them who 'laughed at her calamity, and mocked when her fear came.
It all seemed very remarkable to her, and she viewed it as flowing from a special providence of God. She thought she saw clearly, that their unnatural bereavement was a blow dealt in retributive justice; but she found it not in her heart to exult or rejoice over them. She felt as if God had more than answered her petition, when she ejaculated, in her anguish of mind, 'Oh, Lord, render unto them double!
Isabel could never learn the subsequent fate of Fowler, but heard, in the spring of '49, that his children had been seen in Kingston—one of whom was spoken of as a fine, interesting girl, albeit a halo of sadness fell like a veil about her. We will now turn from the outward and temporal to the inward and spiritual life of our subject.
It is ever both interesting and instructive to trace the exercises of a human mind, through the trials and mysteries of life; and especially a naturally powerful mind, left as hers was almost entirely to its own workings, and the chance influences it met on its way; and especially to note its reception of that divine 'light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
Her mother, as we have already said, talked to her of God. From these conversations, her incipient mind drew the conclusion, that God was 'a great man'; greatly superior to other men in power; and being located 'high in the sky,' could see all that transpired on the earth. She believed he not only saw, but noted down all her actions in a great book, even as her master kept a record of whatever he wished not to forget.
But she had no idea that God knew a thought of hers till she had uttered it aloud. As we have before mentioned, she had ever been mindful of her mother's injunctions, spreading out in detail all her troubles before God, imploring and firmly trusting him to send her deliverance from them.
Whilst yet a child, she listened to a story of a wounded soldier, left alone in the trail of a flying army, helpless and starving, who hardened the very ground about him with kneeling in his supplications to God for relief, until it arrived.
From this narrative, she was deeply impressed with the idea, that if she also were to present her petitions under the open canopy of heaven, speaking very loud, she should the more readily be heard; consequently, she sought a fitting spot for this, her rural sanctuary.
The place she selected, in which to offer up her daily orisons, was a small island in a small stream, covered with large willow shrubbery, beneath which the sheep had made their pleasant winding paths; and sheltering themselves from the scorching rays of a noon-tide sun, luxuriated in the cool shadows of the graceful willows, as they listened to the tiny falls of the silver waters.
It was a lonely spot, and chosen by her for its beauty, its retirement, and because she thought that there, in the noise of those waters, she could speak louder to God, without being overheard by any who might pass that way. When she had made choice of her sanctum, at a point of the island where the stream met, after having been separated, she improved it by pulling away the branches of the shrubs from the centre, and weaving them together for a wall on the outside, forming a circular arched alcove, made entirely of the graceful willow.
To this place she resorted daily, and in pressing times much more frequently. At this time, her prayers, or, more appropriately, 'talks with God,' were perfectly original and unique, and would be well worth preserving, were it possible to give the tones and manner with the words; but no adequate idea of them can be written while the tones and manner remain inexpressible.
She would sometimes repeat, 'Our Father in heaven,' in her Low Dutch, as taught her by her mother; after that, all was from the suggestions of her own rude mind.
She related to God, in minute detail, all her troubles and sufferings, inquiring, as she proceeded, 'Do you think that's right, God? She talked to God as familiarly as if he had been a creature like herself; and a thousand times more so, than if she had been in the presence of some earthly potentate. She demanded, with little expenditure of reverence or fear, a supply of all her more pressing wants, and at times her demands approached very near to commands.
She felt as if God was under obligation to her, much more than she was to him. He seemed to her benighted vision in some manner bound to do her bidding. Her heart recoils now, with very dread, when she recalls those shocking, almost blasphemous conversations with great Jehovah. And well for herself did she deem it, that, unlike earthly potentates, his infinite character combined the tender father with the omniscient and omnipotent Creator of the universe.
She at first commenced promising God, that if he would help her out of all her difficulties, she would pay him by being very good; and this goodness she intended as a remuneration to God. She could think of no benefit that was to accrue to herself or her fellow-creatures, from her leading a life of purity and generous self-sacrifice for the good of others; as far as any but God was concerned, she saw nothing in it but heart-trying penance, sustained by the sternest exertion; and this she soon found much more easily promised than performed.
Days wore away—new trials came—God's aid was invoked, and the same promises repeated; and every successive night found her part of the contract unfulfilled.
She now began to excuse herself, by telling God she could not be good in her present circumstances; but if he would give her a new place, and a good master and mistress, she could and would be good; and she expressly stipulated, that she would be good one day to show God how good she would be all of the time, when he should surround her with the right influences, and she should be delivered from the temptations that then so sorely beset her.
Still, she did not lay it deeply to heart, but continued to repeat her demands for aid, and her promises of pay, with full purpose of heart, at each particular time, that that day she would not fail to keep her plighted word. Thus perished the inward spark, like a flame just igniting, when one waits to see whether it will burn on or die out, till the long desired change came, and she found herself in a new place, with a good mistress, and one who never instigated an otherwise kind master to be unkind to her; in short, a place where she had literally nothing to complain of, and where, for a time, she was more happy than she could well express.
Van Wagener's,—as the reader will readily perceive she must have been,—she was so happy and satisfied, that God was entirely forgotten. Why should her thoughts turn to him, who was only known to her as a help in trouble? She had no trouble now; her every prayer had been answered in every minute particular. She had been delivered from her persecutors and temptations, her youngest child had been given her, and the others she knew she had no means of sustaining if she had them with her, and was content to leave them behind.
Their father, who was much older than Isabel, and who preferred serving his time out in slavery, to the trouble and dangers of the course she pursued, remained with and could keep an eye on them—though it is comparatively little that they can do for each other while they remain in slavery; and this little the slave, like persons in every other situation of life, is not always disposed to perform. There are slaves, who, copying the selfishness of their superiors in power, in their conduct towards their fellows who may be thrown upon their mercy, by infirmity or illness, allow them to suffer for want of that kindness and care which it is fully in their power to render them.
The slaves in this country have ever been allowed to celebrate the principal, if not some of the lesser festivals observed by the Catholics and Church of England;—many of them not being required to do the least service for several days, and at Christmas they have almost universally an entire week to themselves, except, perhaps, the attending to a few duties, which are absolutely required for the comfort of the families they belong to.
If much service is desired, they are hired to do it, and paid for it as if they were free. The more sober portion of them spend these holidays in earning a little money. Most of them visit and attend parties and balls, and not a few of them spend it in the lowest dissipation. This respite from toil is granted them by all religionists, of whatever persuasion, and probably originated from the fact that many of the first slaveholders were members of the Church of England. Frederick Douglass, who has devoted his great heart and noble talents entirely to the furtherance of the cause of his down-trodden race, has said—'From what I know of the effect of their holidays upon the slave, I believe them to be among the most effective means, in the hands of the slaveholder, in keeping down the spirit of insurrection.
Were the slaveholders at once to abandon this practice, I have not the slightest doubt it would lead to an immediate insurrection among the slaves.
These holidays serve as conductors, or safety-valves, to carry off the rebellious spirit of enslaved humanity. But for these, the slave would be forced up to the wildest desperation; and woe betide the slaveholder, the day he ventures to remove or hinder the operation of those conductors! I warn him that, in such an event, a spirit will go forth in their midst, more to be dreaded than the most appalling earthquake.
Van Wagener's a few months, she saw in prospect one of the festivals approaching. She knows it by none but the Dutch name, Pingster, as she calls it—but I think it must have been Whitsuntide, in English. She says she 'looked back into Egypt,' and every thing looked 'so pleasant there,' as she saw retrospectively all her former companions enjoying their freedom for at least a little space, as well as their wonted convivialities, and in her heart she longed to be with them.
With this picture before her mind's eye, she contrasted the quiet, peaceful life she was living with the excellent people of Wahkendall, and it seemed so dull and void of incident, that the very contrast served but to heighten her desire to return, that, at least, she might enjoy with them, once more, the coming festivities.
These feelings had occupied a secret corner of her breast for some time, when, one morning, she told Mrs. Van Wagener that her old master Dumont would come that day, and that she should go home with him on his return. They expressed some surprise, and asked her where she obtained her information. She replied, that no one had told her, but she felt that he would come. It seemed to have been one of those 'events that cast their shadows before'; for, before night, Mr. Dumont made his appearance.
She informed him of her intention to accompany him home. He answered, with a smile, 'I shall not take you back again; you ran away from me. But, ere she reached the vehicle, she says that God revealed himself to her, with all the suddenness of a flash of lightning, showing her, 'in the twinkling of an eye, that he was all over '—that he pervaded the universe—'and that there was no place where God was not.
But she plainly saw there was no place, not even in hell, where he was not; and where could she flee? Another such 'a look,' as she expressed it, and she felt that she must be extinguished forever, even as one, with the breath of his mouth, 'blows out a lamp,' so that no spark remains. A dire dread of annihilation now seized her, and she waited to see if, by 'another look,' she was to be stricken from existence,—swallowed up, even as the fire licketh up the oil with which it comes in contact.
When at last the second look came not, and her attention was once more called to outward things, she observed her master had left, and exclaiming aloud, 'Oh, God, I did not know you were so big,' walked into the house, and made an effort to resume her work. But the workings of the inward man were too absorbing to admit of much attention to her avocations.
She desired to talk to God, but her vileness utterly forbade it, and she was not able to prefer a petition. I have told him nothing but lies; and shall I speak again, and tell another lie to God?
Then a space seemed opening between her and God, and she felt that if some one, who was worthy in the sight of heaven, would but plead for her in their own name, and not let God know it came from her, who was so unworthy, God might grant it.
At length a friend appeared to stand between herself and an insulted Deity; and she felt as sensibly refreshed as when, on a hot day, an umbrella had been interposed between her scorching head and a burning sun. But who was this friend? Was it Deencia, who had so often befriended her? She looked at her, with her new power of sight—and, lo! No, it was some one very different from Deencia. She then said, audibly addressing the mysterious visitant—'I know you, and I don't know you.
When she said, 'I don't know you,' it moved restlessly about, like agitated waters. So while she repeated, without intermission, 'I know you, I know you,' that the vision might remain—'Who are you? At length, after bending both soul and body with the intensity of this desire, till breath and strength seemed failing, and she could maintain her position no longer, an answer came to her, saying distinctly, 'It is Jesus.
Now he appeared to her delighted mental vision as so mild, so good, and so every way lovely, and he loved her so much! And, how strange that he had always loved her, and she had never known it! And how great a blessing he conferred, in that he should stand between her and God!
And God was no longer a terror and a dread to her. She stopped not to argue the point, even in her own mind, whether he had reconciled her to God, or God to herself, though she thinks the former now, being but too happy that God was no longer to her as a consuming fire, and Jesus was 'altogether lovely. In the light of her great happiness, the world was clad in new beauty, the very air sparkled as with diamonds, and was redolent of heaven.
She contemplated the unapproachable barriers that existed between herself and the great of this world, as the world calls greatness, and made surprising comparisons between them, and the union existing between herself and Jesus—Jesus, the transcendently lovely as well as great and powerful; for so he appeared to her, though he seemed but human; and she watched for his bodily appearance, feeling that she should know him, if she saw him; and when he came, she would go and dwell with him, as with a dear friend.
It was not given to her to see that he loved any other; and she thought if others came to know and love him, as she did, she should be thrust aside and forgotten, being herself but a poor ignorant slave, with little to recommend her to his notice. And when she heard him spoken off, she said mentally—'What! I thought no one knew Jesus but me! She conceived, one day, as she listened to reading, that she heard an intimation that Jesus was married, and hastily inquired if Jesus had a wife.
From this time, her conceptions of Jesus became more elevated and spiritual; and she sometimes spoke of him as God, in accordance with the teaching she had received.
But when she was simply told, that the Christian world was much divided on the subject of Christ's nature—some believing him to be coequal with the Father—to be God in and of himself, 'very God, of very God;'—some, that he is the 'well-beloved,' 'only begotten Son of God;'—and others, that he is, or was, rather, but a mere man—she said, 'Of that I only know as I saw.
I did not see him to be God; else, how could he stand between me and God? I saw him as a friend, standing between me and God, through whom, love flowed as from a fountain.
When they sinned through disobedience, this pure spirit forsook them, and fled to heaven; that there it remained, until it returned again in the person of Jesus; and that, previous to a personal union with him, man is but a brute, possessing only the spirit of an animal. She avers that, in her darkest hours, she had no fear of any worse hell than the one she then carried in her bosom; though it had ever been pictured to her in its deepest colors, and threatened her as a reward for all her misdemeanors.
Her vileness and God's holiness and all-pervading presence, which filled immensity, and threatened her with instant annihilation, composed the burden of her vision of terror.
Her faith in prayer is equal to her faith in the love of Jesus. Her language is, 'Let others say what they will of the efficacy of prayer, I believe in it, and I shall pray. Yes, I shall always pray ,' she exclaims, putting her hands together with the greatest enthusiasm. For some time subsequent to the happy change we have spoken off, Isabella's prayers partook largely of their former character; and while, in deep affliction, she labored for the recovery of her son, she prayed with constancy and fervor; and the following may be taken as a specimen: Now, God, help me get my son.
If you were in trouble, as I am, and I could help you, as you can me, think I would n't do it? Yes, God, you know I would do it. I will never give you peace till you do, God. The sense of her nothingness in the eyes of those with whom she contended for her rights, sometimes fell on her like a heavy weight, which nothing but her unwavering confidence in an arm which she believed to be stronger than all others combined could have raised from her sinking spirit.
Oh, God only could have made such people hear me; and he did it in answer to my prayers. We have now seen Isabella, her youngest daughter, and her only son, in possession of, at least, their nominal freedom. It has been said that the freedom of the most free of the colored people of this country is but nominal; but stinted and limited as it is, at best, it is an immense remove from chattel slavery.
This fact is disputed, I know; but I have no confidence in the honesty of such questionings. If they are made in sincerity, I honor not the judgment that thus decides. Her husband, quite advanced in age, and infirm of health, was emancipated, with the balance of the adult slaves of the State, according to law, the following summer, July 4, For a few years after this event, he was able to earn a scanty living, and when he failed to do that, he was dependent on the 'world's cold charity,' and died in a poorhouse.
Isabella had herself and two children to provide for; her wages were trifling, for at that time the wages of females were at a small advance from nothing; and she doubtless had to learn the first elements of economy—for what slaves, that were never allowed to make any stipulations or calculations for themselves, ever possessed an adequate idea of the true value of time, or, in fact, of any material thing in the universe?
To such, 'prudent using' is meanness—and 'saving' is a word to be sneered at. Of course, it was not in her power to make to herself a home, around whose sacred hearth-stone she could collect her family, as they gradually emerged from their prison-house of bondage; a home, where she could cultivate their affection, administer to their wants, and instil into the opening minds of her children those principles of virtue, and that love of purity, truth and benevolence, which must for ever form the foundation of a life of usefulness and happiness.
No—all this was far beyond her power or means, in more senses than one; and it should be taken into the account, whenever a comparison is instituted between the progress made by her children in virtue and goodness, and the progress of those who have been nurtured in the genial warmth of a sunny home, where good influences cluster, and bad ones are carefully excluded—where 'line upon line, and precept upon precept,' are daily brought to their quotidian tasks—and where, in short, every appliance is brought in requisition, that self-denying parents can bring to bear on one of the dearest objects of a parent's life, the promotion of the welfare of their children.
But God forbid that this suggestion should be wrested from its original intent, and made to shield any one from merited rebuke! Isabella's children are now of an age to know good from evil, and may easily inform themselves on any point where they may yet be in doubt; and if they now suffer themselves to be drawn by temptation into the paths of the destroyer, or forget what is due to the mother who has done and suffered so much for them, and who, now that she is descending into the vale of years, and feels her health and strength declining, will turn her expecting eyes to them for aid and comfort, just as instinctly as the child turns its confiding eye to its fond parent, when it seeks for succor or sympathy— for it is now their turn to do the work, and bear the burdens of life, so all must bear them in turn, as the wheel of life rolls on —if, I say, they forget this, their duty and their happiness, and pursue an opposite course of sin and folly, they must lose the respect of the wise and good, and find, when too late, that 'the way of the transgressor is hard.
The reader will pardon this passing homily, while we return to our narrative. We were saying that the day-dreams of Isabella and her husband—the plan they drew of what they would do, and the comforts they thought to have, when they should obtain their freedom, and a little home of their own—had all turned to 'thin air,' by the postponement of their freedom to so late a day.
These delusive hopes were never to be realized, and a new set of trials was gradually to open before her. These were the heart-wasting trials of watching over her children, scattered, and imminently exposed to the temptations of the adversary, with few, if any, fixed principles to sustain them. Yet I did the best I then knew, when with them. I took them to the religious meetings; I talked to, and prayed for and with them; when they did wrong, I scolded at and whipped them.
Her son Peter was, at the time of which we are speaking, just at that age when no lad should be subjected to the temptations of such a place, unprotected as he was, save by the feeble arm of a mother, herself a servant there.
By going into states where she, or any black for that matter, was not wanted and preaching abolitionist rhetoric she proved that a person of color could fight back.
For example, in Indiana, African Americans had been barred, through legislation, from entering the state shortly after the Civil War. Naturally, Sojourner took her speaking tour in directly through the heart of Indiana, which would make her stay marked by legal trials. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The speech targeted men for their egotism in claiming women and blacks should not be given rights because they were not as capable as white men. Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him. She continued, claiming if man believes women and blacks have less intellect then so be it, but that does not give them justification for disallowing them their rights and freedoms: What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights?
If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full? The speech was short, taking not much more than five to ten minutes, but the punch delivered was felt throughout the nation as the speech and more directly her phrase became legendary. Lewis This account heighten the intensity surrounding the speech, which had already been intense in its own right, as Sojourner became seen as the crusader against injustice that she is remembered as today.
Together, these two highly romanticized views of Sojourner Truth helped to create the public image of the ex-slave -- an image which still endures today. The following is the original report by Marcus Robinson. One of the most unique and interesting speeches of the convention was made by Sojourner Truth, an emancipated slave.
Guests examined the history of abolitionism, women’s suffrage, and the antebellum period through the writings of Sojourner Truth. She wrote an autobiography, with the help of Olive Gilbert, titled The Narrative of Sojourner Truth.
SOJOURNER TRUTH. HER BIRTH AND PARENTAGE. THE subject of this biography, SOJOURNER TRUTH, as she now calls herself–but whose name, originally, was Isabella–was born, as near as she can now calculate, between the years and She was the daughter of James and Betsey, slaves of one Colonel Ardinburgh, Hurley, . Sojourner Truth (born Isabella Baumfree, c. to November 26, ) was an African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist best-known for her speech on racial inequalities, "Ain't I a Woman?", delivered extemporaneously in at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention.
Sojourner Truth, born Isabella Baumfree in , was an active participant in the Women’s Rights movement as well as a strong anti-slavery proponent from the time of her emancipation in until her death in Sojourner Truth delivered her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech in at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. Her short, simple speech was a powerful rebuke to many anti-feminist arguments of the day. It became, and continues to serve, as a classic expression of women’s rights. Truth became, and still is today, a symbol of strong women.