Sojourner Truth- Recognizance for Her Son


Sojourner Truth was an American abolosionist and women's rights activist who was born into slavery in New York. Born Isabella Baumfree in 1797, Isabella was sold into slavery and was sold several times before ending up with John Dumont and his wife, Elizabeth. Isabella ended up having children during the time she was Dumont's slave and she wanted her freedom. Dumont agreed to let her go but when the time came, he changed his mind and refused to let her have freedom. Isabella ended up running away with her infant daughter, having to leave behind her other children. After the New York Anti-Slavery Law came into effect in 1827, Dumont ended up illegally selling Isabella's five year old son, Peter. She filed a lawsuit to get Peter back and ended up winning, being the first ever Black woman to win a case against a white man. The image seen here is what is called a recognizance. A recognizance is a bond in which a person undertakes before a court or magistrate to observe some condition. The document shown in the image is dated Febuary 21, 1828, and is addressed to Solomon Gedney, who is believed to be the one who had Peter when he was sold in Alabama. This document states that he is to pay $500 and bring Peter back, and is thus thought to be associated with Isabella's historically groundbreaking lawsuit against her former owner. If it weren't for the anti-slavery law in New York, it would have been unlikely that Soujourner would have won the lawsuit and therefore had this recognizance made for her son. Her lawsuit stood as an example to other black men and women that times were changing and that their race wouldn't always be a barrier in the eyes of the law. This lawsuit was one small step to racial freedom in the history of abolition in America. 

Works Cited: Editors. “Sojourner Truth.”, A&E Television Networks, 29 Oct. 2009, 

Nyquist, Corinne. “On the Trail of Sojourner Truth in Ulster County, New York.” Sojourner Truth in Ulster County, Oct. 2016, 

“Ulster County Clerk, Archives Division.” Ulster County Archives - Our Documents, Solomon Gidney, 

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Timeline of Events Associated with Sojourner Truth- Recognizance for Her Son