Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross into slavery in 1819 or 1820 in Maryland to slave parents.She was raised under harsh conditions, and subjected to whippings even as a small child. She slept as close to the fire as possible on cold nights and sometimes stuck her toes into the smouldering ashes to avoid frostbite. As a child Tubman took care of a younger brother and a baby, as was typical in large families.


When she was five or six years old, Brodess hired her out as a nursemaid to a woman named “Miss Susan.” Tubman was ordered to keep watch on the baby as it slept; when the baby woke and cried, Tubman would be whipped. She later recounted a particular day when she was lashed five times before breakfast.


She carried the scars for the rest of her life.At age six, Araminta was old enough to be considered able to work. She did not work in the fields though. Edward Brodas, her master, lent her to a couple who first put her to work weaving she was beaten frequently.


At the age of 12 Harriet Ross was seriously injured by a blow to the head, inflicted by a white overseer for refusing to assist in tying up a man who had attempted escape.


In 1844, she married John Tubman, a free African American who did not share her dream. Since she was a slave, she knew there could be a chance that she could be sold and her marriage would be split apart, but in 1849 she left her husband and went to Philadelphia because of having the fear that she would be sold.


But later returned to Maryland to rescue her family, one group at a time, she brought relatives out of the state, and eventually guided dozens of other slaves to freedom. Travelling by night, Tubman (or “Moses,” as she was called) “never lost a passenger.”


When the American Civil War began, Tubman worked for the Union Army, first as a cook and nurse, and then as an armed scouts and spy. The first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, she guided the Combahee River Raid, which liberated more than 750 slaves in South Carolina.


After the war, she retired to the family home in Auburn, New York, where she cared for her aging parents. She became active in the women’s suffrage movement in New York until illness overtook her.


In December 1851, Tubman guided an unidentified group of 11 fugitives, possibly including the Bowleys and several others she had helped rescue earlier, northward. There is evidence to suggest that Tubman and her group stopped at the home of abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass.


Harriet’s bravery and service did not end with the Underground Railroad; she also helped during the Civil War. She helped to nurse injured soldiers, served as a spy for the north, and even helped on a military campaign that led to the rescue of over 750 slaves.


Harriet Tubman fought for what Americans hold dear today: freedom, equality, justice and self-determination. She died in 1913, in March, 2013, a National Monument named in her honour was established by President Barack Obama.


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