Sojourner Truth was born into a family of slaves, in a time when the keeping of slaves was thought of as a right, just as the holding of any other property. Her diligent parents constantly moaned memories of her older siblings, sold off to other slave owning families. Two major events marking her childhood are when she herself is auctioned off and the other when she receives the vilest of whippings from her slave master that left scars on her for life. Her story alters any perception of slavery being a necessary asset at that time, for it only propagated human depravity in the society.
The middle part of her life begins with a long stay as a slave under a Mr. Dumont, where she is even espoused to a fellow slave and has five children. She eventually escapes after a betrayal by Mr. Dumont and works under a Mr. Wagener. As a free woman she works as a house help in a number of houses in New York and has a prolonged stay at a Mr. Pierson’s house. Her outlook towards life was founded on her belief in God, thus though marginalized because of being poor, a woman and black, she triumphs over these adversities through her faith. This is witnessed when she faces probably her greatest challenge, the illegal selling off, of her son Peter. Through her resolve and resilience she finally gets her son back.
Her relationship with the greater cultural events at the time is seen in her active role as a member of a number of churches. The most notable was her involvement with the cult-like group called “Kingdom”. After seeing the “Kingdom” crumble under a web of intrigue plus the loss of her savings, Sojourner eventually realizes her error and leaves the religious group.
Her story is important in that it makes us not only aware of the evils of slavery but shows the triumph of truly living a life upheld by Godly tenets not just professing them.
1. Anonymous (1850) Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a northern slave, emancipated from bodily servitude by the state of New York in 1828, with a portrait. J.B. Yerrington and Son, Printers, 21 Cornhill, Boston.