"This first-rate biography presents us with a heroine considerably
more interesting--more original, more powerful--than the
personality sentimentalists have often portrayed."
--"The New Yorker"
"Mabee chronicles Truth's life with restrained passion, refusing
to fall into the traps of history by accepting what has merely been
repeated...It is impressive in its depth, sparking a new interest
in the woman being unveiled--a woman so many of us thought we
--"The Boston Globe"
"I am particulary impressed with the extremely high quality of
the primary research and with the presentation of specific
historical evidence on areas of Truth's life. . . . that have been
mythologized by other writers. The book is obviously the result of
years of careful and laborious sifting through antislavery
newspapers and memoirs of Truth's activist associates. . . . [and]
makes an invaluable contribution to our understanding of this
woman's public life and her relationship to the reform movements of
nineteenth-century America. Equally important, in a tempered and
reasoned way, it presents us with an object lesson in how political
movements (perhaps necessarily) attempt to appropriate. . . .
historical hero figures for their own purposes.
"Sojourner Truth" will stimulate lively discussions among both
academics and nonacademics interested in the history of race
relations in the United States."
--Jean Humez, author of "Gifts of Power: The Writings of Rebecca
Jackson, Black Visionary, Shaker Eldress"
Many Americans have long since forgotten that there ever was
slavery along the Hudson River. Yet Sojourner Truth was born a
slave near the Hudson River in Ulster County, New York, in the late
1700s. Called merely Isabella as a slave, once freed she adopted
the name of Sojourner Truth and became a national figure in the
struggle for the emancipation of both blacks and women in Civil War
Despite the discrimination she suffered as both a black and a
woman, Truth significantly shaped both her own life and the
struggle for human rights in America. Through her fierce
intelligence, her resourcefulness, and her eloquence, she became
widely acknowledged as a remarkable figure during her life, and she
has become one of the most heavily mythologized figures in American
While some of the myths about Truth have served positive
functions, they have also contributed to distortions about American
history, specifically about the history of blacks and women. In
this landmark work, the product of years of primary research,
Pulizter-Prize winning biographer Carleton Mabee has unearthed the
best available sources about this remarkable woman to reconstruct
her life as directly as the most original and reliable available
sources permit. Included here are new insights on why she never
learned to read, on the authenticity of the famous quotations
attributed to her (such as Ar'n't I a woman?), her relationship to
President Lincoln, her role in the abolitionist movement, her
crusade to move freed slaves from the South to the North, and her
life as a singer, orator, feminist and woman of faith. This is an
engaging, historically precise biography that reassesses the place
of Sojourner Truth--slave, prophet, legend--in American
Sojourner Truth is one of the most famous and most mythologized
figures in American history. Pulitzer-Prize-winning
biographerCarleton Mabee unearths heretofore-neglected sources and
offers valuable new insights into the life of a woman who, against
all odds, became a central figure in the struggle for the
emancipation of slaves and women in Civil War America.
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