Sojourner Truth and the Matthias Scandal
Unitarian minister and abolitionist Moncure Daniel Conway's anecdote of the 4 July 1854 Framingham Grove gathering captures the testimonial posture that authorized the morally upright slave witness, Sojourner Truth, to critique the society in which she lived. This chapter discusses Truth's role in one of the nation's first penny-press scandals to reveal how such abolitionist appeals to the popular tribunal interlocked with the black subject's transformation in the shadow of American law in early antebellum print culture. It also analyzes the Matthias scandal, in which Isabella Van Wagenen testified against the Prophet Matthias, who was charged with embezzlement, fraud, murder, and assault following the collapse of the religious cult he had established in New York.
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