Sojourner Truth was born Isabella Baumfree. She later changed her name because she believed God had told her to travel, speaking the truth about slavery.
- Sojourner was born in 1797, one of 10 or 12 children in the Baumfree family. Her parents were slaves and belonged to a wealthy army colonel. As their child, Sojourner was a slave too.
- When she was 9-years-old, she was sold to a man named John Neely. She had to leave her parents and home. Neely was very cruel, beating her daily.
- She was sold several more times. She fell in love with an enslaved man, Robert, from a nearby farm. When her owner found out, he was very angry. His slaves could only have relationships with other slaves that he owned. He beat Robert severely and Robert died a few days later.
- Sojourner later married a man named Thomas, who was also enslaved. She had five children.
- In 1827, the state of New York abolished slavery. Sojourner was able to escape from her owner with her baby daughter, Sophia. She had to leave her other children behind. The law said that they had to be slaves until they were 20.
- A couple took her in and paid her for her work. When she discovered that her son had been illegally sold and sent to Alabama, she took the slaveholder to court and won. She got her son back.
- She lived in New York City and became friends with several abolitionists. Later, she felt called to travel and speak out about slavery and women’s rights. She would spend the rest of her life on this mission. She wrote many speeches, songs, and poems.
Watch a short slideshow about Sojourner Truth.