Sojourner Truth

Isabelle was born a slave in Ulster County, New York. There are many discrepancies in the year that she was born, but it was commonly believed to be somewhere around 1797. As a baby, she was given the name Isabelle Hardenbergh. Her last name came from her owner, Colonel Hardenbergh. At the age of three, Colonel Hardenbergh died, leaving Isabelle and her parents as the property of his son Charles. They lived in deplorable conditions there, sharing a common living area with twelve other slaves. After Charles’ death in 1808, Isabelle and her younger brother were auctioned off. Throughout her years in slavery, Isabelle had many owners, some harsh and some kind. Who they were is inconsequential; what is important to who Isabelle became through her years of bondage. She grew to become a strong woman, both mentally and physically. Through her beatings, she learned determination. Through the loss of her parents, she suffered great heartbreak, but learned to place that aside when it came time to work. Her experiences as a slave helped her to become a strong woman with the combination of wit, wisdom, wild enthusiasm, and flint-like common sense (video). Isabelle has been described as a “woman of remarkable intelligence despite her illiteracy”. She stood a tall 5’11”, and had a masculine, yet beautifully powerful voice. With both her body and mind, she represented enslaved women everywhere. In our society’s remembrance of her, she is seen as a natural, uncomplicated presence in our national life. Rather than just another person in history, she is a symbol (Painter, 3-4). Year after year, for thirty years, she spoke publicly, making herself a strong, influential force in several American reform movements. Throughout her missions, her aim became increasingly secular, and from the late 1840’s through the late 1870’s, she traveled America denouncing slavery and slavers, advocating freedom, women’s rights, woman suffrage, and tem…

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