I would like to introduce you to two women – one a quiet advocate for women’s rights; the other an outspoken advocate for abolition and suffrage; which of these women would have the biggest impact on history?
There was a vast difference in the lives of these two women. Abigail Adams grew up in a well-to-do family that was educated and financially comfortable while Sojourner Truth was born into a poor family of slaves, spoke only Dutch and was a slave herself for many years.
Abigail Adams was known as the “Queen of the First Ladies”, supporting her husband (John Adams) through every phase of his rise to power; as first lady she maintained a mostly conservative stance, vigorously supporting the Alien and Sedition acts even though they proved extremely unpopular with the public. Adams made her strongest appeal for women’s rights in 1776 when John was serving in Philadelphia in Congress; she wrote to John begging him to remember that women also needed to be given the right to independence. (This was her “Remember the Ladies” letter written to her husband in 1778.)
It was Isabella Baumtree’s religious faith that transformed her into Sojourner Truth, one of the most famous nineteenth century black women. She was an uneducated former slave who actively opposed slavery and was very outspoken about her beliefs. After gaining her freedom from slavery, Sojourner went in search of her minor son who had been sold by HER former owner. After this attempt failed she took Dumont to court and won her case. In another instance, she was accused of poisoning members of a cult she had formerly belonged to. She took them to court for slander and won the case; she was the first black person to win such a case against whites.
Sojourner refused to follow the Jim Crow segregation laws on streetcars. As a result, she received a dislocated shoulder when a driver forcibly grabbed her arm and pulled it. She went to court for a... [continues]
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