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Sojourner Truth was one of the earliest and most passionate female abolitionists for she herself had once been a slave She came to be known as the nationally known speaker on human rights for slaves and women Sojourner Truth was born Isabella Baumfree between 1797 and 1800 in Hurley New York There is no exact record of her date of birth She was one of 13 children born to slave parents She spoke only Dutch until she was sold from her family around the age of eleven Because of the cruel treatment she suffered at the hands of her new master she learned to speak English quickly but would continue to speak with a Dutch accent for the rest of her life Still quite a young woman she escaped from her New York owner in 1826 after being brutally treated She had to leave all but one of her children behind She was forced to submit to the will of her third master John Dumont who denied her the choice of a husband and married an older slave named Thomas They had five children She labored for a succession of five masters until the Fourth of July 1827 when slavery was finally abolished in New York State Then Isabella became legally free After prevailing in a courageous court action demanding the return of her youngest son Peter who had been illegally sold away from her to a slave owner in Alabama Isabella moved to New York City There she worked as a housekeeper and became deeply involved in religion In 1829 she became a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church After fifteen years in New York Isabella felt a call to become a traveling preacher After the death of her son she took the name Sojourner Truth which means quest for truth to signify her new role as a traveler telling the truth about slavery She set out on June 1 1843
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