Betty Skelton Frankman was interviewed about her life and career. Betty Skelton was a pilot who in 1959 volunteered to undergo the same medical and psychological tests as the Mercury 7 astronauts. This interview was part of the Aviatrix Pioneers section of an oral history collection at the NASA Johnson Space Center. The interview was done by Carol Butler for the NASA History Office on July 19, 1999, in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Just a few Real Women, of the many....

Why is Paul Revere known for his ride? How about the female Paul Revere? That's what Sybil Ludington is known as. Sybil's ride was twice as far as Paul's.

Sybil's ride became necessary because the British had ransacked Danbury, Connecticut. Danbury was a Patriot supply center. They were then headed for Fredricksburg, New York. A young soldier arrived at Sybil's father's house. Colonel Ludington was in charge of the local volunteers. Needing someone to go at once to gather the troops, Sybil jumped at the chance. She rode to the many villages, informing everyone what was happening. Thanks to her bravery, the Patriots were able to force the British back to Long Island Sound. From there, they sailed away. Chalk up another win for the women. We can't live without them.

Sybil Ludington's Ride
Everyone knows about Paul Revere and his ride, but fewer people know about a female Paul Revere. The "female Paul Revere" was Sybil Ludington. Her trip was twice as long!
Sybil was born in Paterson, New York in 1761. Her father was a colonel in the local militia. Sybil helped at home by spinning, knitting, weaving, and sewing. She also made butter, soap, candles baking bread, mending clothes, and washing dishes. Sybil assisted her mother in gardening. She had twelve brothers and sisters. The female heroine also had a horse named Star. Star also helped Sybil ride the night ride.
http://theflowershopproject.com/wp/wp-content/gallery/history-of-ladies-aid/Sybil%20Ludington.jpgWhen she was 16, her mother expected her to be responsible and to act lady-like. She wanted to be in the militia because she was tired of being ruled by Great Britain. Just like everyone else, she wanted to be free and independent.
She was just tucking in her brothers and sisters when an exhausted messenger came to her house to warn her family about something. The messenger said that British soldiers were burning down the town of Danbury, Connecticut. Danbury was the supply center for the militia. Only 150 militia men where there to protect the town. Someone had to warn the farmers about the attack. The messenger was too tired to go any further. Sybil's father was in charge of the militia so he could not leave. Sybil wanted to take the job and her father agreed to let her go. So, she got ready for the 40-mile trip that awaited her.
She started off at her house. Then she and her horse Star rode to the first farmhouse. She just knocked their door and shouted the message. Then she hurried off to the farmhouses along Horse Pound Road. When she reached the farmhouses there, she did what she did before- knock on the door, and shout out her message. It was about ten o' clock when Sybil reached Shaw's Pond. Then she remembered that so many people were sleeping. So she did not beat on every door or shout at every house. Instead neighbors called to each other and the first ones awake would rush to ring the town bell. Still her job was not finished. She still had to warn the men in the regiment. As she rode in the darkness, British soldiers were going the other way. So she and her horse Star hid behind a tree.
When she reached the next town, Stormville the alarm already had begun to sound. Someone from another town had already come with the news. Sybil was glad and she and Star headed home. When she got home, more than 400 men were ready to march. The eastern sky was red, Sybil realized that she had ridden all night. Her family was really proud of her, but she did not feel like a real soldier. All she wanted to do was to sleep.
People spread the word about Sybil. Soon General Washington went to her house to thank her for her courage. Even Statesman Alexander Hamilton wrote to her, praising her deed. Even though she didn't get to Stormville in time, she was still brave enough to ride for independence. 
At the age of twenty-three, Sybil was married to Edmond Ogden. She had six children and she took well care of her family. Sometimes she would stop and think back to the wet and cold night in the year of 1777.
Sybil Ludington lived to be seventy-eight years old. Her children and their children's children loved to hear the story of a young girl and her ride for independence.
We will never forget Sybil Ludington.
image courtesy of 
by Wendy & Rachel, fourth grade, 2003
for more information:

Sybil Ludington

Her Midnight Ride

Listen my children, and you shall hear, about the midnight ride of Sybil Ludington!
Sybil Ludington?
Poor Sybil. It is difficult to rhyme Ludington except, perhaps, in Limericks. Consequently Paul Revere was singled out by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for enduring praise.
Of all the midnight riders galloping about the countryside during the American Revolution -- warning, "The British are coming!" - equally deserving is 16-year-old Sybil.
She was the oldest of 12 children of Col. Henry Ludington, who in 1777 commanded the militia of Dutchess County, N.Y. - just across the state line from Danbury, Conn.
Col. Ludington was so active in the revolutionary cause, the British put a price on his head. General Howe, the British commander in New York, offered a reward of 300 English guineas for his capture dead or alive.
To collect this bounty, General William Tryon, former governor of New York, had himself and 2,000 of the king's troops set ashore at Westport, Conn. He then marched off on a search and destroy mission.
The British expeditionary force reached Danbury the next day where it burned most of the houses and destroyed some American military stores.
Then, drunk on stolen whiskey, the British troops raged through the town -- looting, raping and abusing the townspeople.
A contemporary account described the attack on Danbury: "One of the most brutal and disgraceful performances of British arms in all the war." News of the atrocity was carried by messengers throughout New England.
One of the messengers raced to Col. Ludington at his home. "Muster your regiment and drive off the British," pleaded the weary rider.
Col. Ludington saw the danger immediately. Tryon might turn west and attack General Washington's flank at Peekskill, N.Y. Unfortunately the militia -- the only one between Danbury and Peekskill -- was on furlough after service in the Hudson Highlands.
Nevertheless, Ludington determined to summon his 421 men to oppose the British advance.
Sybil had listened to the messenger's report and her father's decision. As the eldest child, she had grown up doing jobs usually assigned to sons.
Quickly she volunteered, "I'll go and get the men. They know me and I know the road."
She dressed in riding breeches while Col. Ludington saddled a horse. At 9 p.m. on that night -- April 26, 224 years ago -- Sybil set off on her mission.
"There's trouble!" she yelled as she pulled into darkened farmyards. "The British are burning Danbury. The Colonel wants you right away. Bring your guns."
Sybil got home at daybreak, having covered 40 miles during the night. By then, nearly the whole regiment had mustered. In haste, Col. Ludington led his little troop of Minute Men into Connecticut where he joined other farmer-fighters who had responded to the alarm.
The Americans caught up with the retreating British and harassed them all the way back to their ships. Many Red Coats paid for the raid with their lives.
Alexander Hamilton wrote Col. Ludington: "I congratulate you on the Danbury expedition. The stores destroyed have been purchased at a pretty high price to the enemy."
Gen. George Washington personally thanked Sybil, as did Gen. Rochambeau, the French commander fighting with the Americans.
At age 23, Sybil married Edward Ogden, and they had six children. She died Feb. 26, 1839, just a few days short of her 78th birthday. She is buried near her father in the old Presbyterian burying ground at Patterson, N.Y.
The Daughters of the American Revolution has placed historic markers at several points along the route of his midnight ride.

In 1940, Berton Braley wrote a poem about Sybil in an attempt to do for her what Longfellow did for Paul Revere.
Here are a few stanzas, by no accident similar in style to that of Longfellow:
Listen, my children, and you  shall hear
Of a lovely feminine Paul Revere
Who rode an equally famous ride
Through a different part of the countryside,
Where Sybil Ludington's name recalls
A ride as daring as that of Paul's
 - - -
The Colonel, muttered, "And who, my friend,
Is the messenger I can send?
Your strength is spent, and you cannot ride;
And, then, you know not the countryside.
I cannot go, for my duty's clear.
When my men come in, they must find me here.
There's devil a man on the  place tonight
To warn my troopers to come and fight.
Then, who is my messenger to be?"
Said Sybil Ludington, "You have me."
- - -
"You?" said the Colonel, and grimly smiled.
"You, my daughter, you're just a child."
"Child!" cried Sybil, "Why I'm sixteen.
My mind is alert, and my senses keen.
I know where the trails and  roadways are
And I can gallop as fast and far
As any masculine rider can.
You want a messenger? I'm your man."
Map of Sybil's Ride from
Sybil Ludington: The Call
to Arms
Sybil Ludington: Female Paul Revere

by Susan Groves - Center Street Elementary - El Segundo Unified
send to printer

I. Sybil Ludington's Life Story

We know about Sybil Ludington from letters, records, books, and articles written by people who lived when she lived. There is even a letter written by Sybil herself. There are also birth, marriage, and death records on file that give us information.

Sybil's Childhood

Sybil Ludington was the oldest of 12 children. She was born April 5, 1761, and lived in Dutchess County, New York. Since she was the oldest child, she was expected to help out with the raising of her brothers and sisters.

Her family had a gristmill, where wheat and grains are ground into flour, and a sawmill. The mill was built mostly by the women because the men were away in military service at the time. The family did a good business in the mill.
Sybil had a horse named Star. She was a good rider and enjoyed riding Star.

Sybil's Father

Sybil’s father was Colonel Henry Ludington. He was called The Colonel. He fought in the French-Indian War, and later served in the militia. He led a regiment of 400 men. Since the Colonel and his men were fighting in the Revolutionary War for freedom from Great Britain, he was gone from home for long periods. During his absences, Sybil and her sister Rebecca kept guard over the family home.
Sybil and Rebecca also managed to fool the British once when the British were looking for her father. They pretended that the house was full of people so the British would not attack their home.
Sybil's Ride

When Sybil was 16, her father needed her help.
The Colonel had sent his men home to work on their farms. On the night of April 26, 1777, news came that the British were burning the nearby city of Danbury. The Colonel needed someone to ride and tell the men to meet at his home so they could defend the city. It was a dark, stormy night and the only one who could go was Sybil. So Sybil rode Star for 40 miles in the rain to alert The Colonel’s men.
Sybil's Later Years

Not much is known about Sybil’s life after her famous ride. She stayed at home until she was 23, to help raise the other children in her family. She then married Edmond Ogden and had one son, named Henry. She outlived Edmond, and she died when she was 77 years old.
Sybil was a teenage heroine who, through her courage and strength, helped in our country’s fight for independence.
II. Sybil Ludington's Ride
You may have heard of the Ride of Paul Revere in April 1775. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a famous poem about Paul Revere’s ride. Paul Revere had three people to help him ride to warn the colonists of coming of the British.
Sybil Ludington was a 16-year-old girl who rode alone over 40 miles in the dark of night to rally her father’s soldiers. Her ride took place two years after Paul Revere’s ride, yet little is know or written about her heroic deed
Sybil's Heroic Ride

Sybil Ludington’s father needed her help on the night of April 26, 1777. The British were burning the town of Danbury and Colonel Ludington needed someone to ride and alert his men.
Sybil and her horse, Star, were the only ones who could go.
So she set out on that cold, dark, rainy night. She rode 40 miles through forests, and over the countryside to tell her father’s regiment to muster at the Ludington home. To muster means to gather together.
There were skinners about in the forests. Skinners were men who attacked people to get their money, belongings, or their horses. Sybil
and Star sometimes had to hide so the skinners would not see them.
Sybil was cold, wet, and frightened, but she kept on riding, kept on knocking on doors to wake the men and tell them to muster at the Ludington’s home. When she arrived home in the morning she found Colonel Ludington’s 400 men in her front yard ready to fight the British.
Because of her heroic ride, the regiment was able to drive back the British and to save the lives of many people. General George Washington came to the Ludington home to personally thank Sybil for her efforts.dington home to personally thank Sybil for her efforts.

After the Ride

Few people knew of Sybil’s ride until an article appeared in a magazine in 1907 about her heroic deed. That was 130 years after she and Star rode to warn the men. Then people became interested in what she had done.
In 1975, the U.S. Postal Department issued a Sybil Ludington stamp. Today there are markers along the highway, marking the route of her ride. There is also a statue of Sybil riding Star in Carmel, New York.
She is buried in the Presbyterian cemetery in Patterson, New York, alongside her father and mother.
III. Poems
Most people have heard or read the poem, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. But few have heard the poem, Sybil Ludington’s Ride, by Berton Braley.
Longfellow’s poem begins,
“Listen my children and you shall hear
of the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.
On the eighteenth of April in Seventy-Five;
Hardly a man is now alive,
Who remembers that famous day and year.”
Braley’s poem begins,
“Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of a lovely feminine Paul Revere
Who rode an equally famous ride
Through a different part of the countryside,
Where Sybil Ludington’s name recalls
A ride as daring as that of Paul’s.”
Many other writers have written poems, songs, articles, and stories about Sybil as well. Sybil was important because she helped our country to gain its independence from England.

[ Sybil Ludington: "I'm your man." ]

Sybil Ludington
Biography of Sybil Ludington–April 5, 1761–February 26, 1839
Everyone has heard of Paul Revere's famous ride to warn friends and neighbors that the British were coming, but there was someone else who rode through the night with a warning, too.
Sybil Ludington was the eldest of twelve children born to Colonel Henry and Abigail Ludington. As the oldest, she helped with the household and in raising her brothers and sisters. Col. Ludington had served in the French and Indian War and he volunteered to serve as the local militia commander of 400 men when the war with the British began.
In April, 1777, British General William Tyron invaded Connecticut from Long Island Sound. He commanded 2000 soldiers, and ordered them to burn Danbury where supplies for the rebels were stored. In the process, the British soldiers ate and drank what they could find. A messenger was sent 17 miles to the Ludington home to tell Colonel Ludington that Danbury was burning and he knew that the British would move into New York for further attacks. He needed to gather his troops who were scattered around Dutchess and Putnam counties at their homes and farms. The messenger was exhausted and could not go any further, so Sybil, who had just had her sixteenth birthday, volunteered to ride out in the stormy night to tell the militia to meet at her father's house. She and her horse, Star, rode 40 miles through the countryside to the towns of Carmel, Mahopac and Stormville. By the time Sybil made it back home near dawn, most of the 400 men were already gathered and ready to march.
The town of Danbury could not be saved, but the militia was able to prevent the British from advancing into New York. The British were pushed back to their boats in Long Island Sound in the Battle of Ridgefield. Sybil was recognized by General George Washington for her contribution to the war.
Not much is known about Sybil after her ride. She married a man named Edmond Ogden and they had one son. She died in 1839 at the age of 77.
Statue of Sybil Ludington in Carmel, New York
First Day Postal Cover for a stamp honoring Sybil Ludington, 1975
A Poem about Sybil Ludington by Berton Braley
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of a lovely feminine Paul Revere
Who rode an equally famous ride
Through a different part of the countryside,
Where Sybil Ludington's name recalls
A ride as daring as that of Paul's.

In April, Seventeen Seventy-Seven,
A smoky glow in the eastern heaven
(A fiery herald of war and slaughter)
Came to the eyes of the Colonel's daughter.
"Danbury's burning," she cried aloud.
The Colonel answered, "'T is but a cloud,
A cloud reflecting the campfires' red,
So hush you, Sybil, and go to bed."

"I hear the sound of the cannon drumming"
"'T is only the wind in the treetops humming!
So go to bed, as a young lass ought,
And give the matter no further thought."
Young Sybil sighed as she turned to go,
"Still, Danbury's burning--that I know."

Sound of a horseman riding hard
Clatter of hoofs in the manoryard
Feet on the steps and a knock resounding
As a fist struck wood with a mighty pounding.
The doors flung open, a voice is heard,
"Danbury's burning--I rode with word;
Fully half of the town is gone
And the British--the British are coming on.
Send a messenger, get our men!"
His message finished the horseman then
Staggered wearily to a chair
And fell exhausted in slumber there.

The Colonel muttered, "And who, my friend,
Is the messenger I can send?
Your strength is spent and you cannot ride
And, then, you know not the countryside;
I cannot go for my duty's clear;
When my men come in they must find me here;
There's devil a man on the place tonight
To warn my troopers to come--and fight.
Then, who is my messenger to be?"
Said Sybil Ludington, "You have me."

"You!" said the Colonel, and grimly smiled,
"You!" My daughter, you're just a child!"
"Child!" cried Sybil. "Why I'm sixteen!
My mind's alert and my senses keen,
I know where the trails and the roadways are
And I can gallop as fast and as far
As any masculine rider can.
You want a messenger? I'm your man!"

The Colonel's heart was aglow with pride.
": Spoke like a soldier. Ride, girl, ride
Ride like the devil; ride like sin;
Summon my slumbering troopers in.
I know when duty is to be done
That I can depend on a Ludington!"

So over the trails to the towns and farms
Sybil delivered the call to arms.
Riding swiftly without a stop
Except to rap with a riding crop
On the soldiers' doors, with a sharp tattoo
And a high-pitched feminine halloo.
"Up! up there, soldier. You're needed, come!
The British are marching!" and the drum
Of her horse's feet as she rode apace
To bring more men to the meeting place.

Sybil grew weary and faint and drowsing,
Here limbs were aching, but still she rode
Until she finished her task of rousing
Each sleeping soldier from his abode,
Showing her father, by work well done,
The he could depend on a Ludington.

Dawn in the skies with its tints of pearl
And the lass who rode in a soldier's stead
Turned home, only a tired girl
Thinking of breakfast and then of bed
With never a dream that her ride would be
A glorious legend of history;
Nor that posterity's hand would mark
Each trail she rode through the inky dark,
Each path to figure in song and story
As a splendid, glamorous path of glory--
To prove, as long as the ages run,
That "you can depend on a Ludington."

Such is the legend of Sybil's ride
To summon the men from the countryside
A true tale, making her title clear
As a lovely feminine Paul Revere!
Learn more about Sybil Ludington
Purple Mountain Press: Sybil Ludington The Call to Arms
About.com: Women's History: Sybil Ludington
The Hudson River Valley Institute: Sybil Ludington's Ride lesson plan
American History for 21st Century Citizens, A Southern California Consortium of Teachers: Sybil Ludington: Female Paul Revere
Daughters of the American Revolution: Sybil Ludington


Sojourner Truth (Isabella Baumfree)

Source: Abraham Lincoln: The War Years Vol. 2, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc
(photograph circa 1862) © www.arttoday.com

NAME: Isabella Baumfree (Sojourner Truth)
BIRTHPLACE: Ulster County, New York
FAMILY BACKGROUND: Sojourner Truth was born in 1797 on the Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh estate in Swartekill, in Ulster County, a Dutch settlement in upstate New York. Her given name was Isabella Baumfree (also spelled Bomefree). She was one of 13 children born to Elizabeth and James Baumfree, also slaves on the Hardenbergh plantation. She spoke only Dutch until she was sold from her family around the age of nine. Because of the cruel treatment she suffered at the hands of a later master, she learned to speak English quickly, but had a Dutch accent for the rest of her life.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: She was first sold around age 9 when her second master (Charles Hardenbergh) died in 1808. She was sold to John Neely, along with a herd of sheep, for $100. Neely's wife and family only spoke English and beat Isabella fiercely for the frequent miscommunications. She later said that Neely once whipped her with "a bundle of rods, prepared in the embers, and bound together with cords." It was during this time that she began to find refuge in religion -- beginning the habit of praying aloud when scared or hurt. When her father once came to visit, she pleaded with him to help her. Soon after, Martinus Schryver purchased her for $105. He owned a tavern and, although the atmosphere was crude and morally questionable, it was a safer haven for Isabella.
But a year and a half later, in 1810, she was sold again to John Dumont of New Paltz, New York. Isabella suffered many hardships at the hands of Mrs. Dumont, whom Isabella later described as cruel and harsh. Although she did not explain the reasons for this treatment in her later biography narrative, historians have surmised that the unspeakable things might have been sexual abuse or harassment (see the biography on Harriet Jacobs, the only former slave to write about such), or simply the daily humiliations that slaves endured.
Sometime around 1815, she fell in love with a fellow slave named Robert, who was owned by a man named Catlin or Catton. Robert's owner forbade the relationship because he did not want his slave having children with a slave he did not own (and therefore would not own the new 'property'). One night Robert visited Isabella, but was followed by his owner and son, who beat him savagely ("bruising and mangling his head and face"), bound him and dragged him away. Robert never returned. Isabella had a daughter shortly thereafter, named Diana. In 1817, forced to submit to the will of her owner Dumont, Isabella married an older slave named Thomas. They had four children: Peter (1822), James (who died young), Elizabeth (1825), and Sophia (1826).
The state of New York began in 1799 to legislate the gradual abolition of slaves, which was to happen July 4, 1827. Dumont had promised Isabella freedom a year before the state emancipation, "if she would do well and be faithful." However, he reneged on his promise, claiming a hand injury had made her less productive. She was infuriated, having understood fairness and duty as a hallmark of the master-slave relationship. She continued working until she felt she had done enough to satisfy her sense of obligation to him -- spinning 100 pounds of wool -- then escaped before dawn with her infant daughter, Sophia. She later said:
"I did not run off, for I thought that wicked, but I walked off, believing that to be all right."
Isabella wandered, not sure where she was going, and prayed for direction. She arrived at the home of Isaac and Maria Van Wagenen (Wagener?). Soon after, Dumont arrived, insisting she come back and threatening to take her baby when she refused. Isaac offered to buy her services for the remainder of the year (until the state's emancipation took effect), which Dumont accepted for $20. Isaac and Maria insisted Isabella not call them "master" and "mistress," but rather by their given names.
Isabella immediately set to work retrieving her young son Peter. He had recently been leased by Dumont to another slaveholder, who then illegally sold Peter to an owner in Alabama. Peter was five years old. First she appealed to the Dumonts, then the other slaveholder, to no avail. A friend directed her to activist Quakers, who helped her make an official complaint in court. After months of legal proceedings, Peter returned to her, scarred and abused.
During her time with the Van Wagenens, Isabella had a life-changing religious experience -- becoming "overwhelmed with the greatness of the Divine presence" and inspired to preach. She began devotedly attending the local Methodist church and, in 1829, left Ulster County with a white evangelical teacher named Miss Gear. She quickly became known as a remarkable preacher whose influence "was miraculous." She soon met Elijah Pierson, a religious reformer who advocated strict adherence to Old Testament laws for salvation. His house was sometimes called the "Kingdom," where he led a small group of followers. Isabella became the group's housekeeper. Elijah treated her as a spiritual equal and encouraged her to preach also. Soon after, Robert Matthias arrived, who apparently took over as the group's leader, with the activities becoming increasingly bizarre. In 1834, Pierson died with only the group's members attending. His family called the coroner and the group disbanded. The Folger family, whose house the group had moved into, accused Robert and Isabella of stealing their money and poisoning Elijah. They were eventually acquitted and Robert traveled west.
Isabella settled in New York City, but she had lost what savings and possessions she had had. She resolved to leave and make her way as a traveling preacher. On June 1, 1843, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth and told friends, "The Spirit calls me [East], and I must go." She wandered in relative obscurity, depending on the kindness of strangers. In 1844, still liking the utopian cooperative ideal, she joined the Northampton Association of Education and Industry in Massachusetts. This group of 210 members lived on 500 acres of farmland, raising livestock, running grist and saw mills, and operating a silk factory. Unlike the Kingdom, the Association was founded by abolitionists to promote cooperative and productive labor. They were strongly anti-slavery, religiously tolerant, women's rights supporters, and pacifist in principles. While there, she met and worked with abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and David Ruggles. Unfortunately, the community's silk-making was not profitable enough to support itself and it disbanded in 1846 amid debt.
Sojourner went to live with one of the Association's founders, George Benson, who had established a cotton mill. Shortly thereafter, she began dictating her memoirs to Olive Gilbert, another Association member. The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave was published privately by William Lloyd Garrison in 1850. It gave her an income and increased her speaking engagements, where she sold copies of the book. She spoke about anti-slavery and women's rights, often giving personal testimony about her experiences as a slave. That same year, 1850, Benson's cotton mill failed and he left Northampton. Sojourner bought a home there for $300. In 1854, at the Ohio Woman's Rights Covention in Akron, Ohio, she gave her most famous speech -- with the legendary phrase, "Ain't I a Woman?" :
"That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud puddles, or gives me any best place, and ain't I a woman? ... I have plowed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me -- and ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man (when I could get it), and bear the lash as well -- and ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children and seen most all sold off to slavery and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me -- and ain't I woman?"
Sojourner later became involved with the popular Spiritualism religious movement of the time, through a group called the Progressive Friends, an offshoot of the Quakers. The group believed in abolition, women's rights, non-violence, and communicating with spirits. In 1857, she sold her home in Northampton and bought one in Harmonia, Michigan (just west of Battle Creek), to live with this community. In 1858, at a meeting in Silver Lake, Indiana, someone in the audience accused her of being a man (she was very tall, towering around six feet) so she opened her blouse to reveal her breasts.
During the Civil War, she spoke on the Union's behalf, as well as for enlisting black troops for the cause and freeing slaves. Her grandson James Caldwell enlisted in the 54th Regiment, Massachusetts. In 1864, she worked among freed slaves at a government refugee camp on an island in Virginia and was employed by the National Freedman's Relief Association in Washington, D.C. She also met President Abraham Lincoln in October. (A famous painting, and subsequent photographs of it, depict President Lincoln showing Sojourner the 'Lincoln Bible,' given to him by the black people of Baltimore, Maryland.) In 1863, Harriet Beecher Stowe's article "The Libyan Sibyl" appeared in the Atlantic Monthly; a romanticized description of Sojourner. (The previous year, William Story's statue of the same title, inspired by the article, won an award at the London World Exhibition.) After the Civil War ended, she continued working to help the newly freed slaves through the Freedman's Relief Association, then the Freedman's Hospital in Washington. In 1867, she moved from Harmonia to Battle Creek, converting William Merritt's "barn" into a house, for which he gave her the deed four years later.
In 1870, she began campaigning for the federal government to provide former slaves with land in the "new West." She pursued this for seven years, with little success. In 1874, after touring with her grandson Sammy Banks, he fell ill and she developed ulcers on her leg. Sammy died after an operation. She was successfully treated by Dr. Orville Guiteau, veterinarian, and headed off on speaking tours again, but had to return home due to illness once more. She did continue touring as much as she could, still campaigning for free land for former slaves. In 1879, Sojourner was delighted as many freed slaves began migrating west and north on their own, many settling in Kansas. She spent a year there helping refugees and speaking in white and black churches trying to gain support for the "Exodusters" as they tried to build new lives for themselves. This was to be her last mission.
Sojourner made a few appearances around Michigan, speaking about temperance and against capital punishment. In July of 1883, with ulcers on her legs, she sought treatment through Dr. John Harvey Kellogg at his famous Battle Creek Sanitarium. It is said he grafted some of his own skin onto her leg. Sojourner returned home with her daughters Diana and Elizabeth, their husbands and children, and died there on November 26, 1883, at 86 years old. She was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery next to her grandson. In 1890, Frances Titus, who published the third edition of Sojourner's Narrative in 1875 and became Sojourner's traveling companion after Sammy died, collected money and erected a monument on the gravesite, inadvertently inscribing "aged about 105 years." She then commissioned artist Frank Courter to paint the meeting of Sojourner and President Lincoln.
Sojourner Truth has been posthumously honored in many ways over the years:
  • a memorial stone in the Stone History Tower in Monument Park, downtown Battle Creek (1935);
  • a new grave marker, by the Sojourner Truth Memorial Association (1946);
  • a historical marker commemorating members of her family buried with her in the cemetery (1961);
  • a portion of Michigan state highway M-66 designated the Sojourner Truth Memorial Highway (1976);
  • induction into the national Woman's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York (1981);
  • induction into the Michigan Woman's Hall of Fame in Lansing (1983);
  • a commemorative postage stamp (1986);
  • a Michigan Milestone Marker by the State Bar of Michigan for her contribution (three lawsuits she won) to the legal system (1987);
  • a marker erected by the Battle Creek Club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs (also 1987);
  • a Mars probe named for her (1997);
  • a community-wide, year-long celebration of the 200th anniversary of her birth in Battle Creek in 1997, plus a larger-than-life statue of her by artist Tina Allen; and
  • the First Black Woman Honored with a Bust in the U.S. Capitol (October, 2008)
DATE OF DEATH: November 26, 1883
PLACE OF DEATH: Battle Creek, Michigan
PORTRAYED BY: Stephanie Tolliver
Braude, Ann. Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1989.
Commire, Anne, editor. Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Waterford, Conn.: Yorkin Publications, 1999-2000.
Hooks, Bell. Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism. Boston, MA: South End, 1981.
Johnston, Paul E., and Sean Wilentz. The Kingdom of Matthias. NY: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Mabee, Carleton. Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend. NY: New York University Press, 1993.
Painter, Nell Irvin. Sojourner Truth: A Life, a Symbol. NY: W.W. Norton, 1996.
Pauli, Hertha Ernestine. Her Name Was Sojourner Truth. NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1962.
Slave Narratives. NY: Library of America, 2000.
Stetson, Erlene, and Linda David. Glorying in Tribulation: The Lifework of Sojourner Truth. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 1994.
Stewart, James Brewer. Holy Warriors: The Abolitionists and American Slavery. NY: Hill and Wang, 1976.
Truth, Sojourner. Narrative of Sojourner Truth; a Bondswoman of Olden Time, Emancipated by the New York Legislature in the Early Part of the Present Century with a History of her Labors and Correspondence, Drawn from Her Book of Life. Battle Creek, MI: Published for the Author, 1878. Later printing, with introduction by Margaret Washington: NY: Vintage Books, 1993.
Sojourner Truth Institute
Sojourner Truth - Stamp on Black History profile
Sojourner Truth - Memorial Statue Project in Florence, Massachusetts
Sojourner Truth - Battle Creek Historical Society

Ain't I a Woman?

Text of the speech "Ain't I a Woman?" by Sojourner Truth, delivered at the 1851 Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio.
by Sojourner Truth
Delivered 1851 at the Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio
Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?
That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?
Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?
Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.


Best known as the first woman elected chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller was an activist for Native American and women's rights.

Selected Wilma Mankiller Quotations

• I want to be remembered as the person who helped us restore faith in ourselves.
• We are a people with many, many social indicators of decline and an awful lot of problems, so in the fifties they decided to mainstream us, to try to take us away from the tribal landbase and the tribal culture, get us into the cities. It was supposed to be a better life.
• Most people like to deal with us as though we were in a museum or a history book.
• There were a significant number of people in this country that were still questioning whether Indians were human.
• Western movies always seemed to show Indian women washing clothes at the creek and men with a tomahawk or spear in their hands, adorned with lots of feathers. That image has stayed in some people's minds. Many think we're either visionaries, `noble savages,' squaw drudges or tragic alcoholics. We're very rarely depicted as real people who have greater tenacity in terms of trying to hang on to our culture and values system than most people.
• We've had daunting problems in many critical areas, but I believe in the old Cherokee injunction to 'be of a good mind.' Today it's called positive thinking.
• Individually and collectively, Cherokee people possess an extraordinary ability to face down adversity and continue moving forward.
• I came to the position with absolute faith and confidence in our own people and our own ability to solve our own problems.
• The secret of our success is that we never, never give up.
• We must trust our own thinking. Trust where we're going. And get the job done.
• There are the extremes on both sides. There are those who have turned their backs on being Cherokee. Then we have a few who refuse to speak much English and think children should only play stickball, not baseball or football. They are suspicious of the non-Indian world, thinking too much assimilation will cause one to stop thinking Cherokee.
• There are a whole lot of historical factors that have played a part in our being where we are today, and I think that to even to begin to understand our contemporary issues and contemporary problems, you have to understand a little bit about that history.
• In Iroquois society, leaders are encouraged to remember seven generations in the past and consider seven generations in the future when making decisions that affect the people.
• I don't think anybody anywhere can talk about the future of their people or of an organization without talking about education. Whoever controls the education of our children controls our future.
• Growth is a painful process.
• Everybody is sitting around saying, 'Well, jeez, we need somebody to solve this problem of bias.' That somebody is us. We all have to try to figure out a better way to get along.
• Prior to my election, young Cherokee girls would never have thought that they might grow up and become chief.
• I've run into more discrimination as a woman than as an Indian.
• It was on Alcatraz...where at long last some Native Americans, including me, truly began to regain our balance.
• One of the things my parents taught me, and I'll always be grateful for the gift, is to not ever let anybody else define me.
• I experienced my own Trail of Tears when I was a young girl. No one pointed a gun at me or at members of my family. No show of force was used. It was not necessary. Nevertheless, the United States government through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, was again trying to settle the 'Indian problem' by removal. I learned through this ordeal about the fear and anguish that occur when you give up your home, your community, and everything you have ever known to move far away to a strange place. I cried for days, not unlike the children who had stumbled down the Trail of Tears so many years before. I wept tears that came from deep within the Cherokee part of me. They were tears from my history, from my tribe's past. They were Cherokee tears.

More About Wilma Mankiller

Women in History
  • Abigail Smith Adams (1744-1818) - Wife of John Adams, 2nd President of the United States and mother of John Quincy Adams, 6th President. Known for her letters and opinions on society.
  • Jane Addams (1860-1935) - Social Activist, founder of Hull House, charter member of the NAACP, Nobel Peace Prize winner and labor union organizer.
  • Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) - Seamstress, servant, teacher, Civil War nurse, and finally, author and novelist.
  • Marian Anderson (1902-1995) - First African American to sing leading role with Metropolitan Opera, delegate to U.N.
  • Susan Brownell Anthony (1820-1906) - Napoleon of the women's suffrage movement, mother of the 19th Amendment, abolitionist.
  • Josephine Baker (1906-1975) - African-American international star, civil rights activist, World War II heroine.
  • Ida B. Wells Barnett (1862-1931) - African-American educator, newspaperwoman, anti-lynching campaigner, founder NAACP.
  • Clara Barton (1821-1912) - Civil War nurse, founder of the American Red Cross.
  • Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) African-American educator, founder of Bethune-Cookman College, Daytona Beach, Florida, Presidential advisor, recipient of Spingarn Medal.
  • Sarah Bolton (1841-1916) - Noted Cleveland author of biographies, poetry and a temperance novel.Ohio
  • Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971) - Groundbreaking photo-journalist and author
  • Mary Elizabeth Bowser ( 1839-?) - African-American Union spy in the Confederate White House.
  • Belle Boyd (1844-1900) - Confederate spy during the Civil War.
  • Margaret "Molly" Tobin Brown (1867-1932) - Titanic survivor and a woman who was determined to break the rules of "high society."
  • Eliza Bryant (1827-1907) - African-American founder of the The Cleveland Home for Aged Colored People. Ohio
  • Abbie Burgess (Grant) (1839-1892) - Lighthouse keeper at Matinicus Rock and Whitehead Light Stations in Maine, commissioned by U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Martha Jane "Calamity Jane" Cannary (1852-1903) - A lone woman in the wilds of the Rocky Mountain west
  • Rachel Carson (1907-1964) - Marine biologist, science writer, and environmentalist.
  • Rebecca Carter (1766-1827) - Pioneer woman of Cleveland. Ohio
  • Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893) African-American born pioneer journalist and lecturer.
  • Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947) - Suffragette, founder of the League of Women Voters.
  • Cassie L. Chadwick (1857-1907) - Most infamous Cleveland financial con-artist. Ohio
  • Bessie Coleman (1893-1926) - First African-American woman to get pilot's license.
  • Dorothy Dandridge (1923-1965) - Actress, singer and dancer. Star of Carmen Jones and Porgy and Bess. Ohio
  • Isadora Duncan (1875-1929) - Mother of modern dance.
  • Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) - Aviatrix.
  • Mary Fields (1832?-1914) - African-American entrepreneur, stagecoach driver, pioneer.Ohio
  • Diana Fletcher (circa 1830's) - Daughter of a former slave father and Kiowa mother, activist, taught in black Cherokee school.
  • Dorothy Fuldheim (1893-1989) - Jewish-American news journalist and television broadcaster; developed format for television news programming. Ohio
  • Lucretia Rudolph Garfield (1832-1918) - Wife of James Garfield, 20th President of the United States was First Lady for six months when her husband was assassinated. "Crete" returned home to Lawnfield in Mentor where her life continued in a non-traditional way.Ohio
  • Zelma Watson George (1903-1994) - African-American delegate to the U.N., opera singer, speaker and educator.Ohio
  • Emma Goldman (1869-1940) - Vilified in her day as the "most dangerous woman in America," this Russian emigrant earned her title, “Queen of the Anarchists” as labor leader, lecturer, writer, women’s rights activist and free love advocate.
  • Julia Boggs Dent Grant (1826-1902) - Wife of Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States, was a determined woman who despite family objections married the man she loved. Outspoken, she also created her own plans for ending the Civil War and holding a secret Presidential Inauguration.Ohio
  • Charlotte Forten Grimke (1837-1890) - African-American writer, abolitionist and educator.
  • Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) - African-American sharecropper turned civil rights worker and founder of the MS Freedom Democratic Party.
  • Florence Harding (1860-1924) - Wife of Warren Harding, 29th President of the United States, the first presidential wife able to vote for her husband. Scandal plagued this First Lady throughout her life.Ohio
  • Caroline Lavinia Scott Harrison (1832-1892) - Wife of Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States, was the first president-general of the newly formed DAR. An accomplished watercolorist, she designed and painted the Harrison state china and organized the White House china collection.Ohio
  • Lucy Ware Webb Hayes (1831-1889) - Wife of Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States, was the first presidential wife to have a college degree. She originated the annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn.Ohio
  • Sally Hemings (1773-1835) - African American who sacrificed her freedom from slavery for the love of President Thomas Jefferson.
  • Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, USNR (1906-1992) - Computer pioneer and the oldest officer in active duty when she retired in 1986.
  • Hedda Hopper (1890-1966) - In the golden age of Hollywood, Hedda could make or break careers. Gossip was her business and J. Edgar Hoover was her penpal.
  • Adella Prentiss Hughes (1869-1950) - Founder of the Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Music Settlement House.Ohio
  • Jane Edna Hunter (1882-1971) - African-American social worker, attorney, founder of Phyllis Wheatley Association of Cleveland.Ohio
  • Zora Neale Hurston (1903-1960) - African-American writer from The Harlem Group, influenced Toni Morrison and Alice Walker.
  • Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643) – A Puritan woman who defied the male-dominated Massachusetts Bay Colony and after banishment helped settle Rhode Island and New York.
  • Mahalia Jackson (1912-1972) - Extraordinary gospel singer and the first African-American woman to gain national acclaim for gospel music.
  • Rebecca Jackson ( 1795-1871) - African-American eldress of the Shaker sect.
  • Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897) - African-American escaped slave, author and abolitionist.
  • “Mother” Mary Harris Jones (1837-1930) - Irish immigrant who lost her family to yellow fever and became the self-proclaimed mother and “hell-raiser” for the downtrodden American laborer, especially children.
  • Sissieretta Jones (1869-1933) - African-American international vocal prima donna of late 19th century, favorite of George Bernard Shaw and several presidents.
  • Barbara Jordan (1936-1996) - African-American orator and Congresswoman.
  • Elizabeth Keckley (1820-?) Personal maid, best friend and confidant to Mary Todd Lincoln. Wrote tell-all book after leaving Mrs. Lincoln's employ.
  • Marie LaVeau (1796?-1863?) - African-American Voodoo Queen of New Orleans and famous herbalist.
  • Edmonia Lewis ( 1843-?) - First successful African-American sculptor.Ohio
  • Ida Lewis (1842-1913) - Heroic lighthouse keeper of Rhode Island, commissioned by U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Mary Todd Lincoln (1818-1882) - Wife of President Abraham Lincoln, misrepresented by popular history and maligned by her peers.
  • Jenny Lind (1820-1887) - Swedish international opera star, brought to U.S. by P.T. Barnum in the 1850s.
  • Juliette Gordon Low (1860-1927) - Founder of the American Girl Scouts.
  • Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987) - Playwright, U.S. Congresswoman and ambassador to Italy.
  • Barbara Mabrity (1782-1867) - Lighthouse keeper in Key West, Florida, commissioned by U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Dolley Madison (1768-1849) - First Lady and doyen of Washington society
  • Biddy Mason (1818-1891) - Entrepreneur, one of first African-American women to own land in California.
  • Rachel Agnes Mason (1867-1903) An Irish immigrant whose family came to America in 1788 because of religious conflict.
  • Flora Stone Mather (1852-1910) - Cleveland philanthropist, founder of Flora Stone Mather college at Western Reserve University for women. Sponsored Goodrich House for urban children.Ohio
  • Ida Saxton McKinley (1847-1907) - Wife of William McKinley, 25th President of the United States, developed a unique way of coping with her epileptic seizures during her public appearances as First Lady. Ohio
  • Maria Mitchell (1818-1889) - Astronomer and professor at Vassar College. First female member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • Louise Nevelson (1899-1988) - Russian born New York sculptor famous for her shadow box, wall sculptures and her flamboyant personality.
  • Annie Oakley (1860-1926) - World famous markswoman from Ohio.Ohio
  • Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) - Famed American artist who defied convention in both her art and her private life.
  • Louella Parsons (1893-1965) - Hollywood gossip columnist, who dominated Hollywood's Golden Era. Louella's relationship with William Randoph Hearst and her own three marriages made her life as stormy as any Hollywood movie.
  • Alice Paul (1885-1977) - The woman who rescued the woman suffrage movement (1910) and made sure women got the vote.
  • Mrs. George (Hannah?) Peake (1755-18??) - First African-American settler of Cleveland.Ohio
  • Molly Pitcher (Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley) (1754-1832) - Born Mary Ludwig, this revolutionary heroine followed the Continental Army for more than 3 years, doing what was needed to free the colonies from the tyranny of England.
  • Eleanor Anna Roosevelt (1884-1962) - Wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, first activist First Lady
  • Rebecca Rouse (1799-1887) - Cleveland humanitarian, temperance advocate, abolitionist, founder of Beech Brook.Ohio
  • Wilma Rudolph (1940-1994) - African-American Olympic Gold Medalist.
  • Rose Bianco Salvatore (1900-1993) - Italian immigrant during the "Great Wave" coming to America.Ohio
  • Belle Sherwin (1868-1955) - Cleveland suffragist, President of League of Women Voters, social reformer.Ohio
  • Margaret Skapes (1892-1968) - Immigrant from Greece, suffragette.Ohio
  • Bessie Smith (1894-1937) - African-American blues singer.
  • Valaida Snow (190?-1956) - African-American band leader and trumpet player.
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) First president of the National Woman's Suffrage Association.
  • Belle Starr (1848-1889) - Confederate sympathizer and western frontierswoman and outlaw.
  • Susan McKinney Steward (1848-1918) - First female African-American doctor in New York State.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) - Author of Uncle Tom's Cabin.Ohio
  • Annie Sullivan (1866-1936) - Helen Keller's teacher.
  • Helen Herron Taft (1861-1943) - Wife of William H. Taft, 27th President of the United States, always longed to live in the White House. Known for planting Washington D.C.’s legendary cherry trees.Ohio
  • Susie King Taylor (1848-1912) - First African-American U.S. Army nurse during the Civil War.
  • Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954) - African-American lecturer, suffragette, civil rights leader.
  • Sojourner Truth (Isabella Baumfree) (1797-1883) - African-American abolitionist, Civil War nurse, suffragette.
  • Harriet Tubman (1820?-1913) - Underground Railroad conductor, Army scout, African-American suffragette.
  • Elizabeth Van Lew (1818-1900) - Crazy Bet, an abolitionist in the South during the Civil War, who feigned insanity to help free slaves and help the Union Army.
  • Rosetta Wakeman (1843-1864) - Posed as a male to serve in Union Army during Civil War.
  • Madame C.J. Walker (1867-1919) - African-American entrepreneur, millionaire and philanthropist.
  • Hazel Mountain Walker (1900-1980) - African-American attorney, school principal, actress at Karamu
  • Katherine Walker (1846-1931) - Lighthouse keeper at Robin's Reef, New York, commissioned by U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Mary Edwards Walker (1832-1919) - Prisoner of war during the Civil War, writer, doctor, fashion trend-setter and the only female to receive the Medal of Honor.
  • Mae West (1892-1980) First to earn a million dollars in the movie business.
  • Phillis Wheatley (175?-1784) - First noted African-American woman poet.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) - Famed children’s author and “storyteller of the prairie.”
  • Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927) - First woman to run for President, center of a scandal that rocked the nation.Ohio
"Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas." 
— Marie Curie

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