Truth's Original Address to the 1851 Convention at Akron, Ohio


Sojourner Truth’s address to the Women’s Rights Convention at Akron, Ohio became widely popular and with it she rose to prominence as one of the greatest abolitionist orators of 19th century United States. However, Truth herself never learnt to read or write so there is a controversy surrounding this extemporaneous speech. Several versions of it have been published since, the two main ones being Rev. Marius Robinson’s transcription published on June 21, 1851 in the Anti-Slavery Bugle and Frances Gage’s 23 April 1863 issues of the New York Independent. It is important to note Marius Robinson was present in the audience at the Akron Convention where Truth delivered the speech. Gage’s version of it is written in thick Southern accent (South being associated with slaves) and repeats the rhetorical question, “Ain’t I a Woman.” Even though this is the popularized version of the speech, it is important to note that Truth was born in the North (in New York) in a Dutch speaking county and never lived in the South. Oddly enough, the biggest difference  is that Marius’ version does not even include the words ‘Ain’t I a Woman,’ a title by which the address is famous. Another important note is that Marius Robinson and Truth were friends and went over the transcribed version together before its publication.

Works Cited:

Humanities, National Endowment for the. “Anti-Slavery Bugle. [Volume] (New-Lisbon, Ohio) 1845-1861, June 21, 1851, Page 160, Image 4.” News about Chronicling America RSS, Ohio American Antislavery Society, 

“Compare the Speeches.” The Sojourner Truth Project, 

Associated Place(s)

Image Date: 

21 Jun 1851