Harriet Tubman often referred to as the Moses of her people for her incredible courage and strength in leading many enslaved blacks to freedom in America before and during the civil war through the underground railroad. She lived a hard and amazing life. Tubman was abolitionist, soldier, nurse and freedom fighter. She was also apart of the woman suffrage movement. Today, we take a look at her inspirational and wonderful life.
She was born Araminta Ross in 1821 as a slave in Dorchester, county Maryland. Her enslaved parents were Harriet Green and Ben Ross. Her father Ben Ross was held on a plantation run by Anthony Thompson who became Mary Brodess's second husband. Together, the couple owned slaves near Blackwater river in Maryland. Like, many slaves born at that time in history, neither the exact year, month or placed of their birth was known. According to mid wife payment records and historical information, they list Tubman birth as 1821.
Her life as slave began at the age of five when she was force to care for Mary's child while the baby slept. When the child awoke Araminta was badly beaten with whips and force to do outside chores. The beatings left her badly scarred. At the age of thirteen, Ross sustained a terrible head injury from a weight accidentally thrown at her skull in a store by a slave owner who tried to stop a black man from escaping slavery.
The injury left her with a fractured skull which she suffered debilitating headaches, black outs, seizures and epilepsy. She would later state that the injury gave her divine visions by God to lead her people to freedom.
Marriage and abolitionist work
Ross married a free black man named John Tubman in 1844. She legally changed her name to her mother's name Harriet and took her husband last name. She had kids with John. Harriet parents became free after their owners had died but Harriet was still a slave. Her husband was against her efforts to become free because of fear. She left him after hearing that she and her relatives was to be sold to a plantation in the South before her owner Mary had died.
She befriended many white abolitionists and politicians who were against slavery. This led to her determination to free herself and relatives from the condition. Harriet Tubman used the underground railroad which was a host of safe houses established by white and black abolitionists.
She risked her life nineteen times to free more than 77 of her relatives including her parents and strangers along a path known as the underground railroad. One of the enslaved men tried to go back into slavery. She pulled out a gun and put it to his head and told him she could not allow him to return because it would had risked her life and the people on the journey with her. The journey was very difficult and long. It extended from Maryland, the south and as far away as Canada. Tubman did not want slave owners to discover the underground railroad safe houses. He agreed to continue and became a free black man in America. She stated to historian writers before her death she never loss a passenger in her dangerous journey to freedom. She first became free when she reached the state of Pennsylvania. Harriet used numerous tactics to elude capture which included pretending to do slave labour in safe houses to reading a newspaper on a train. She was known as illiterate, someone unable to read or write so this tactic made slave owners believe she was the wrong person. There was once a 40,000 reward for her capture or death.
When the civil war began Harriet serve as a soldier and spy for union soldiers because of her distinct knowledge of the underground railroad and slave plantations through out the south and the United States.
She led an assault on slave plantations with the Combahee ferry. Tubman led three steamboats around Confederate mines in the waters leading to the shore. The raid freed over 750 blacks from slavery. Harriet became the first woman to serve in the military for combat and the only one during the U.S civil war. She later worked as a nurse taking care of wounded black and white soldiers with holistic medicines. Tubman was dubbed the Moses of her people by abolitionists and war officials. She had a profound belief in God which guided her through her long and amazing life.
Fame, Later life and Death
Harriet Tubman was highly respected by her peers for her courageous work as abolitionist and freedom fighter. After the civil war ended she was given land and a very small pension for her military efforts. Harriet was often denied payments making her unable to keep up with bills. She worked small jobs to make ends meet. Tubman was never a rich woman. She later champion women rights to vote making her an icon in the woman suffrage movement.
Harriet underwent brain surgery to correct her traumatic head injury she suffered as a teenager. She did so without anesthesia as a tribute to the wounded men she cared for during the American civil war. The surgery helped to alleviate her painful headaches and seizures which plagued her all of her adult life.
She settled with her family and some of her children and second husband Nelson Charles Davis in Auburn, New York in 1869 . The American icon lived there until her death in 1913 from pneumonia. Harriet was buried with full military honors. Her grave-site is a historically landmark in New York city. Tubman stood only 5 foot tall. She was a tiny lady.
Honors and Tributes
The life of America icon Harriet Tubman bought many tributes over the last several decades proceeding her death. In the United States, numerous schools, roads and buildings are named in her honor. A survey called her the most famous civilian in American history before the civil war.
In 1937, the Empire Federation Women's Club erected a gravestone for Harriet Tubman. The site was listed on the National Register of historic places in 1999. After 1920, AME Zion church reestablished her New York home turning it into a museum and educational center.
"In 2013, President Barack Obama used his executive authority to create the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument, consisting of federal lands on Maryland's Eastern Shore at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge" according to Wikipedia.com.
"Tubman's life was dramatized on television in 1963 on the CBS series The Great Adventure in an episode titled "Go Down Moses".
Statues of Tubman have been placed in several American cities. In 1944, a ship was named after her SS Harriet Tubman, the first liberty ship named for a black woman.
Harriet Tubman has a asteroid named in her honor as well. Asteroid number 241528. She was inducted into National Women's Hall of Fame in 1973 and the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame in 1989.
jean rock on February 22, 2021:
Liz Westwood from UK on January 07, 2020:
This is an interesting article. I had not heard of Harriet Tubman before.