HIST147 Historical Documents – Sojourner Truth (5 points)
This assignment assumes you have read Chapter 13 of the online textbook. The document is the text of a speech giving at a women’s rights convention by activist Sojourner Truth. Students should read Truth’s speech and write a to the assignment question.
The response for the question should be at least 150 words. Students are welcome to go over the minimum word count requirement. If you include the question in your response, it does not count toward the word count requirement. The response should be written in complete sentences. The response should be written in your own words. DO NOT use quotes from the historical documents.
These responses will be evaluated on how well the responses reflect the information presented in the historical documents.
Students should submit their responses as ONE Word doc or PDF file to Canvas.
Background Information: The Cult of True Womanhood
Mid-nineteenth century prescriptive literature, such as magazines, newspaper articles, and books, often described middle-class women as too delicate, too weak, or too sensitive to survive in the world outside the home. Women, they said, could never compete in the dog-eat-dog world of cities, saloons, and businesses. Economic and political life should be left to the men.
A woman should remain in the home where she could reign as the angel of the household and provide a comfortable, safe enclosure for her husband and children. She belonged in her separate sphere and he in his. Her tasks at home were supervisory, her role ornamental. She should, in short, create a “haven in a heartless world.”
Influenced by such widely circulated magazines as Godey’s Lady’s Book, middle-class women read about the latest fashions and received prescriptions for “True Womanhood,” which consisted of four principal themes. Women were to be pious, chaste, domestic and subservient.
The document starts on the next page.
“Ain’t I A Woman?” Sojourner Truth, former slave (1851)
Speech from Women’s Convention, 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.
1. According to Sojourner Truth, why should women have the same rights men? How is Sojourner Truth using the ideology of the “Cult of True Womanhood” in her speech?