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Sojourner Truth

Once upon a time, in New York, not far from where I live in New Jersey, a baby girl known as Isabella Baumfree was born into slavery to a Dutch-speaking master.  She was auctioned off at the age of nine with a herd of sheep for $100 to a cruel English-speaking master who beat her for not understanding his instructions, leaving life-long scars on her body. Twice more she was sold.  Then in 1826, when her master refused to honor his promise to free her a year before all adult slaves were to be freed in New York, she escaped with her baby daughter Sophie.  Discovering  that her five-year-old son Peter had been illegally sold to an out-of-state slave owner, she filed a lawsuit and won.  About that time, she had a conversion experience and took the name, she said, God  gave her–Sojourner Truth.  In 1843, at the age of 43, she set out to witness against slavery and for women’s rights.  A towering, majestic, fearless presence,  Sojourner Truth was a passionate advocate for freedom and equality.  I’ve visit a number of landmarks honoring Sojourner Truth.  Most recently this extraordinary memorial to her in Esopus, New York, a hamlet in the town of Port Ewen, NY, the area just west of the Hudson River, where she spent almost thirty years as a slave.  The bronze statue, by Trina Green, represents her as a girl.  There are welts on her hands and back representing the beatings she endured. The jar represent the work she did for one of her masters, who owned a tavern, of carrying heavy jars of molasses and liquor long distances.  The following images are: historical marker at Sojourner Truth Memorial “Sojourner Truth Daughter of Esopus”:  Home of Martinus Schryver, a tavern owner who bought Isabella in 1808; Van Wagnen House, where Isabella sought refuge when she escaped with her infant daughter Sophie in 1826; Photograph and advertisement for Sojourner Truth, who sold her photograph and her Narrative to support her travels under the slogan “I sell the Shadow to Support the Substance; 1808 Inventory of the Estate of Charles Hardenburgh, who had inherited Isabella from his father, her original owner. This is the first official record of Isabella, whose value is listed at $100. Her mother, Bett, and brother Peet, are also listed.

photo 7
Van Wagnen
Sojourner lecture
1808 inventory
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