PC:  Public domain

PC: Public domain

Sojourner Truth

This icon of abolitionism and gender equality was too much of a free-spirited seeker to be the exclusive claim of any religious organization, even if the oral tradition that she was baptized by Adventist pioneer Uriah Smith in the Kalamazoo River is true. Yet Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) had close ties with Adventists, who she saw as friends and allies in the struggle for racial justice. Truth moved to Battle Creek, Michigan at about the same time as the sabbatarian wing of Adventists led by James and Ellen White moved their headquarters there in 1856. She developed relations with the Adventist community that lasted the remainder of her life. Biographer Margaret Washington sheds light on this counterintuitive affinity: "Sabbath-keeping Adventists fused progressive political rhetoric with a spiritual lamentation of national decline, worked the Underground Railroad, and condemned proslavery legislation...Antebellum Adventists were not conservative, antiinstitutional, apolitical, or fundamentalists. Although obsessed with Apocalypse, believers also supported abolition."

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