Study Guide

Ain't I a Woman? Timeline

By Sojourner Truth, a.k.a. Isabella Baumfree

Timeline

ca. 1562

Voyage of the "Good Ship Jesus"

Sir John Hawkins gathered 300-500 native Africans—by stealing from Portuguese ships, violent capture, and blatant lying about land—and sold them in the Dominican Republic. Yep, this guy started the slave trade and was basically responsible for centuries of subjugation, the American Civil War, and racism that continues to this day.

Excuse us while we tape a picture of his face to our dartboard.

ca. 1619

First Slaves Arrive in Jamestown, Virginia

So, the slave trade to Europe and the Caribbean was hopping throughout the last half of the 16th Century, but it wasn't until two pirate ships, the White Lion and the Treasurer, arrived at the colony at Jamestown that captured Africans set foot on British North America.

ca. 1797

Birth of Isabella Baumfree

Sojourner Truth was born. Well, Isabella Baumfree was born. It wasn't until 1843 that she chose Sojourner Truth as her name.

ca. 1826

Belle Baumfree Escapes

Isabella got tired of her owner lying about setting her free before New York emancipation, so she grabbed her youngest daughter and got out of town.

ca. 1828

Isabella Takes on Her Former Owner in Court...and Wins

Isabella's five-year-old son Peter was illegally sold to an Alabama owner. She took the matter to court and became one of—if not the—first Black women to win against a white man.

December 1833

The Creation of the American Anti-Slavery Society

The first formal abolition society was created in Philadelphia. We knew we liked the City of Brotherly Love…and not just because "jawn " is the most useful word in the English language.

ca. 1840

Abolitionists Begin Calling for Women's Rights

Many abolitionists blamed slavery for corrupting the entirety of American society and suggested an overhaul of social values, including rights for women. This was really not popular…and caused a ton of upheaval in politics and among religious groups.

Hey, it just proves that the right thing is often unpopular. (Although that doesn't mean that an unpopular thing is necessarily right—guacamole with peas is a) unpopular and b) a crime against humanity.)

July 18th and 19th, 1848

Seneca Falls Convention

The first convention specifically devoted to women's rights. Yes.

Seneca Falls, organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott and attended by over two hundred women, was held at the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Seneca Falls, New York. Over forty men attended the second day, where the Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances was adopted…including a clause to fight for women's right to vote, and marking the beginning of American suffrage.

May 29th, 1851

Ohio Woman's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio

When you think of Akron in May you probably think of thunderstorms and the smell of growing corn (and tires). But you should think of the Ohio Woman's Rights Convention, where "Ain't I a Woman?" was given.

Both men and women were admitted…although a portion of the male attendees, including preachers, went to ridicule the speakers. (Trolls were a thing in the 19th Century, apparently.)

March 6th, 1857

Dred Scott v. Sandford

The Supreme Court ruled slaves were not citizens and the federal government could not outlaw slavery.

Wow. Humans can be horrible.

April 12th, 1861

The Start of the Civil War

While secession of seven Southern states had occurred earlier in the year, mostly in reaction to Republican anti-slavery platforms and the incoming Republican President Abraham Lincoln, the start of the war was the Confederate firing on Fort Sumter.

May 9th, 1865

End of the Civil War

General Lee surrendered at Appomattox on April 9th, 1865. Bureaucracy being what it is—not to mention that little issue of the President being assassinated—the war wasn't officially over until the next month.

December 6th, 1865

Ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment

Slavery in the U.S. was abolished. Finally.

August 18th, 1920

Ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment

Unfortunately, Sojourner Truth did not live to see the day Black women finally received equal rights to white women and all men. Still, her sisters in spirit appreciate the impact of "Ain't I a Woman?" even today.