The impact of great African american women before 1877 Essay

The impact of great african american women before 1877Sojourner Truth            Sojourner Truth was originally known as Isabella, and was the daughter of James and Betsey, who were slaves of Col. Hardenbergh in New York. After escaping from slavery and being legally freed by the state, Isabella eventually was called to the life of an itinerant speaker and took up the name Sojourner, and later on adding the surname Truth. She was a powerful speaker against slavery, who often moved her audiences to tears and exclamations of horror just by speaking of how some slaves were treated by their cruel masters. Truth’s work pointed to the complexities of developing moral agency amid contradictory moral economies.

[1]The various projects which Truth undertook in her life and work showed how she both resisted and played off of the contradictory demands of “womanhood”. She fought for the uplift of her race, but through the particular means open to her as a woman. She acted as a direct care provider to African Americans in and around Washington D.C., during and after the civil war, protesting the segregation of the City Railway, and working on jobs and resettlement projects. She also fought for women’s suffrage as a means to improve the living conditions for African Americans. She also argued simultaneously for the vote on the basis of women’s nature and knowledge as distinct from men and for an expansion of liberal understandings of rights to include African American women.

In her own words, she said,” a women ought to have her rights for her own benefit, she ought to have them, not only for her own benefit, but for the whole creation, not only the women, but all the men on the face of the earth, for they were the mothers of them. Therefore, she ought to have her God-given right, and be equal to men, for she was the resurrection of them.” This shows Truth’s determination to fight for equality between men and women. She worked to claim her right and those of African Americans going to the polls in Battle Creek, Michigan, where she lived and demanded the right to vote in the 1872 presidential election. In her postbellium project of attempting to gain land grants for African Americans, she also challenged the material conditions of racism in the United States and the continuing rights of former slaves to claim a place in the United States in contrast to the project of repatriation to Liberia. [2] Truth worked with President Lincoln in fighting for the freedom of the slaves.Harriet JacobsHarriet Jacobs was an African American author and abolitionist. She was born on March 13th in 1813.

Harriet was born to slavery in Edenton, North Carolina. She was orphaned while she was still a young child and was taught to read and to write by her owner’s wife, and by her own account experienced a relatively pleasant childhood. When she was grown up, her owner began to abuse her sexually.[3] Her impact in the 19th century was mainly through her writings. Her texts represent the development in woman’s literature that is parallel to those of the religious narrators who became empowered through spiritual transcendence. Harriet became active in the antislavery movement and at the urging of some female abolitionists, wrote the book ‘Incidents in the life of a slave girl’. In Harriet Jacob’s text as in those of many women writing at the time, spiritual transcendence is of less value than intellectual, moral, and personal autonomy and self-expression.

Writing in the first person, Jacob recounts incidents in her life as a naive slave girl but the narrative voice is clearly that of a free, informed woman. She not only intends to demonstrate the evils of slavery but to show her female readers the similarities to their situations and convince them that as long as there are slave girls such as Linda Brent, no woman’s freedom is secure. Her book resembles in many important ways the writings of other antebellum women, but it is a testimony that could only have been written by a black woman enslaved in the United States. Harriet Jacobs sets out to do what women of her race and class did not generally do.

In her book, she identifies white women as a significant portion of her readership and attempts to write across the color line, to meditate between the races and if not to resuscitate their former coalition than at least to establish that they did not have mutual concerns. She sought to “arouse” the women of the North to knowledge and to action, to have them understand themselves as contemporary equivalent to those “women that are at ease”, those “careless daughters,” to whom  the prophet Isaiah had so eloquently explained their connection between their own freedom am the freedom of the children of Israel.            Harriet Jacobs represents the incidents in her life as being at the same time unique and typical, unusual and commonplace. She asserts a common sister hood, but at the same time warns against conflating the situation of enslaved black women and free white ones, asserting that the former suffered perils that provided subsequent prerogatives for the latter.

She died in 1897. [4]Harriet Turban            Harriet Turban was born Araminta “Minty” Ross in late February or early March in Dorchester County, Maryland in 1820. Minty was born in to slavery, and at the age of five, she began to work as a house servant. She ran away from her home because of constant beatings. After freeing slavery, she became a soldier, nurse, spy, the famous “conductor” of the underground rail road and an abolitionist. Her dangerous, yet successful secret journeys into the slave’s states to rescue bondwomen, men and children have immortalized her in the minds of Americans for one hundred and forty years.

She was referred to as Moses in her time, and her fortitude, and determination in the face of formidable adversity has left us with an image of a woman, an icon, a heroine of mythic proportions. During a ten-year span, she made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom. She was always proud of these rescues, because she never lost a single passenger.            In 1844, she married a free black man, John Turban, and took the name Turban. In 1849, she and a few other slaves who worked with her in the plantation feared that they would be sold, so she resolved to run away. She escaped on foot, but was assisted by a friendly white woman. She followed the North Star during the night, and made her way to Pennsylvania and afterwards moved to Philadelphia, where she worked and saved money. She then started rescuing slaves.

Turban returned to Maryland to rescue her sister and her sister’s children. She went back for her husband on her third rescue mission, but found out that she had taken another wife, so instead, she rescued other slaves.[5]It is said that no one person exemplified the spirit if resistance more than Harriet Tubman. Even in her day, Tubman elicited tremendous respect and awe for her bravery, tenacity, and uncanny ability to elude capture, but she remained paradox. In the late 1850s and throughout the civil war a few favorable accounts of Tubman exploits appear in antislavery publications; others in hostile post-slavery newspapers. Her identity remained veiled, however, partly for protection from proslavery forces and partly due to the nature of her activities. She was constantly moving either in and out of the south ferrying fugitive slaves, traveling to meet privately with prominent antislavery activists in search of funds, or working odd jobs to support herself and her family. Though she frequented antislavery rallies and lectures, she mostly remained a spectator.

Unlike Sojourner Truth, she rarely spoke in public. She was illiterate and could only rely on friends to read and write for her. [6]Bibliography1)      African American Registry, retrieved on 5/5/2009 from      Bradford Sarah Hopkins, 2nd edition.

Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People. Citadel Press, 19743)        Foster Frances Smith. Written by herself: literary production by African American women, 1746-1892.

Indiana University Press, 1993; pages 95-1004)      Harriet Tubman. Africans in America, retrieved on 5/5/2009 from      Jakobsen Janet R. Working alliances and the politics of difference: diversity and feminist ethics.

Indiana University Press, 1998;  pg 47-526)      Sojourner Truth (Isabella Baumfree). Women in History., retrieved on 5/5/2009 from[1] Sojourner Truth (Isabella Baumfree ). Women in History.

, retrieved on 5/5/2009 from[2] Jakobsen Janet R. Working alliances and the politics of difference: diversity and feminist ethics. Indiana University Press, 1998;  pg 47-52[3] African American Registry, retrieved on 5/5/2009 from http://www.[4] Foster Frances Smith. Written by herself: literary production by African American women, 1746-1892. Indiana University Press, 1993; pages 95-100[5] Harriet Tubman. Africans in America, retrieved on 5/5/2009 from http://www.[6] Bradford Sarah Hopkins, 2nd edition. Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People, Citadel Press, 1974;