Harriet had one daughter, Gertie, whom she and her second husband (Nelson Davis) adopted after the Civil war.
Harriet was acquainted with leading abolitionists of the day, including John Brown who conferred with "General Tubman" about his plans to raid Harpers Ferry.
Harriet earned the nickname "Moses" after the prophet Moses in the Bible who led his people to freedom. In all of her journeys she "never lost a single passenger."
Harriet wore many hats: She was an active proponent of women's suffrage and worked alongside women such as side Susan B. Anthony. During the civil war, Harriet also worked for the Union Army as a cook, a nurse and even a spy.
Just before Harriet's death in 1913 she told friends and family, "I go to prepare a place for you." She was buried with military honors in Fort Hill Cemetery in New York.
Inspirational Quotes from Harriet Tubman:
"I would fight for my liberty so long as my strength lasted, and if the time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me."
"I grew up like a neglected weed - ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it."
"I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other."
Her Early Life
Harriet was born, Arminta ‘Minty’ Ross, in Dorchester, Maryland. Her parents were slaves. From a young age, she was made to work as a house slave and later on she was forced to work on the plantation fields. She worked there until she escaped.
During this time, Harriet suffered physical violence from her owners.
The most serious of these injuries occurred when she was a teenager. Harriet had been sent to collect supplies from a dry goods store, and she came across a slave who had left the fields without permission. The slave owner ran out, demanding that Harriet help him capture this slave. She refused, allowing the slave to escape. In a final attempt to catch the slave, the slave owner tried to throw a heavy weight at him. He missed, and hit Harriet’s head instead. This accident caused her to suffer seizures, severe headaches and intense dreams for the rest of her life.
In 1844, Harriet married a freed slave named John Tubman.
The brave escape
In 1849, Harriet’s owner died from an illness. In fear of being sold away and separated from her family, Harriet and her brothers, Ben and Henry, decided to escape.
Not too long afterwards, a notice was posted for their capture with are ward of $300. Scared of what would happen to them if they were found, Ben and Henry decided to go back to the plantation. Harriet however, decided to carry on, and using the networks of the Underground Railroad, she fled to Philadelphia.
The Underground Railroad
During this time there were states in the northern United States where slavery was outlawed. The Underground Railroad was a network of helpful people, safe houses (called ‘stations’) and secret routes to help slaves escape.
The people that helped the slaves escape were called ‘conductors’. Slaves would move from station to station at night, hiding in the woods or sneaking onto trains until they finally reached the north and freedom.
Moses of the Slaves
Harriet soon began to miss her family and friends in Maryland. The following year, news came that her sister and two children were to be sold. Harriet returned to Maryland and led them to freedom. This was the beginning of her mission to help to free slaves. She became a conductor in the Underground Railroad.
Harriet led 19 different escapes, helping around 300 slaves to escape to freedom.
There was a reward for her capture, but Harriet was never caught. She was brave and clever, and had learned a few tricks that made the escapes successful. These included escaping on a Saturday night. Runaway posters were not printed until Monday mornings, so this meant that slaves had extra time on their side to make their escape.
Harriet was nicknamed “Moses” because she led her people out of slavery, just like the Moses in the Bible did.
Guide, Spy and Leader
During the American Civil War, Harriet worked with the North to defeat the South. She believed joining forces would ensure the freedom of all black men, women and children from slavery.
She worked as a nurse to look after sick and injured soldiers, and also helped to organize a military campaign.
In 1863, she worked alongside Colonel James Montgomery, and helped as advisor and guide in the campaign to free slaves at the plantations along the Combahee
River. This attack freed over 750 slaves.
Harriet campaigning for women’s rights
Harriet’s life was not easy, and even in later life she faced financial struggles. She continued to campaign, and focused her energies on women’s right to vote. She worked alongside other campaigners such as Susan B. Anthony.
The 13-cent Harriet Tubman stamp was issued on February 1, 1978.
Harriet as a symbol
Harriet is a symbol for the African American people today, as her efforts freed hundreds of slaves.
Although she was not a very tall woman, she was brave, and she made great achievements.
Monuments have been created to celebrate her work. In 1978, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp in honor of Harriet Tubman.
A woodcut of Tubman in her Civil War clothing
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