Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Sojourner Truth

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SOJOURNER TRUTH, lecturer, b. in Ulster county. N. Y., about 1775; d. in Battle Creek, Mich., 26 Nov., 1883. Her parents were owned by Col. Charles Ardinburgh, of Ulster county, and she was sold at the age of ten to John J. Dumont. Though she was emancipated by the act of New York which set at liberty in 1817 all slaves over the age of forty, she does not appear to have obtained her freedom until 1827, when she escaped and went to New York city. Subsequently she lived in Northampton. Mass., and in 1851 began to lecture in western New York, accompanied by George Thompson, of England, and other Abolitionists, making her headquarters in Rochester, N. Y. Subsequently she travelled in various parts of the United States, lecturing on politics, temperance, and women's rights, and for the welfare of her race. She could neither read nor write, but, being nearly six feet in height and possessing a deep and powerful voice, she proved an effective lecturer. She carried with her a book that she called “The Book of Life.” containing the autographs of many distinguished persons that were identified with the anti-slavery movement. Her name was Isabella, but she called herself “Sojourner,” claiming to have heard this name whispered to her from the Lord. She added the appellation of “Truth” to signify that she should preach nothing but truth to all men. She spent much time in Washington, D. C., during the civil war, and passed her last years in Battle Creek, Mich., where a small monument was erected near her grave, by subscription. See “Narrative of Sojourner Truth, drawn from her ‘Book of Life,’ with Memorial Chapter,” by Mrs. Francis W. Titus (Battle Creek, 1884).