Sojourner Truth (c. 1777–1883), African American slave; later an itinerant preacher and advocate of various social reforms including abolition, woman suffrage, and temperance. As quoted in The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, part 2: "Book of Life," by Frances W. Titus (1875).
Explaining her change of name. She was originally named Isabella, with the surname Van Wagener, after her last master, actually a humane person who offered her refuge and employment after she escaped from slavery. She had a flair for speaking and hymn-singing and, in 1851, left her home in Northampton, Massachusetts, on a lecture tour sponsored by abolitionists. She did not know her birthdate but did know that she was born in Ulster County, New York, and claimed to have been freed by that state's act of 1817 which liberated all slaves who were forty or older. Truth was illiterate, but several of her listeners recorded her words. In this case, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), the famous abolitionist author of Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), was recalling Truth's conversation during a visit to the Stowe home. Stowe described the visit in "Sojourner Truth, the Libyan Sibyl," an article first published in the Atlantic Monthly (April 1863) and reprinted by Titus in this book.