Introduction - Harriet TubmanHarriet Tubman was an amazing woman and one of the most famous women in black history. She was born into slavery, escaped and then risked her freedom and life to save numerous others from slavery. Her name has become synonymous with the Underground Railroad which was a network of routes and hiding places used to help slaves escape from southern states to freedom in the north. On this page is a list of interesting facts, a synopsis of Harriet Tubman's life including when she was born, where she lived, how she helped slaves escape to freedom, and what her role in the American Civil War was. This information is written for both adults and kids, who may be writing Black History Month reports.
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Harriet Tubman Slavery Facts
- She was born Araminta "Minty" Ross in Maryland around 1822.
- Early in her life, as a slave, she was subjected to beatings and whipped by her slave masters. At one point she suffered a severe head wound which caused her pain throughout her entire life.
- In approximately 1844 she married a free black man by the name of John Tubman; who would later leave her for another woman.
- In 1849, after her slave masters death, Tubman started to plan her escape from slavery when plans were being made to sell her and her family; which would likely have resulted in splitting up the family.
- At some point she changed her first name to Harriet. Why she did this is unclear although one likely theory is it was to hide her identity upon her escape from slavery.
- On September 17th of 1849 she escaped from the plantation in Maryland where she was enslaved. She had saved some money and depended on the Underground Railroad for shelter and guidance. Traveling at night in order to avoid capture she made her way some 90 miles (145 kilometers) to Philadelphia and freedom.
- One of Harriet Tubman's famous quotes expresses her feelings when she escaped slavery by crossing into Pennsylvania; "When I found I had crossed that line (the Mason-Dixon line separating Pennsylvania and Maryland), I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything."
- Her first rescue mission was in 1850 to help her niece and her niece's two children escape slavery. Many more missions would follow earning her the nickname "Moses"; due to the fact she was leading black slaves to freedom similar to Moses who led the Hebrew slaves to freedom escaping from Egypt.
- Tubman led 13 missions over eleven years into Maryland. She led an estimated 70 slaves to freedom including many of her family members. If she had been captured helping slaves escaped she most likely would have been killed or re-enslaved.
- No slave in her care was ever captured or killed during an escape; all made it to freedom.
- Slave owners in eastern Maryland had no idea that Tubman was responsible for the numerous escaped slaves in their region.
Harriet Tubman Civil War Facts
- When the American Civil War began Tubman did what she could to help the Union win; realizing that a Union victory would lead to the end of slavery. Just as she had risked her life to free slaves she once again risked her life as a nurse in Union camps caring for soldiers many of which had highly contagious disease.
- Later in the Civil War she helped the Union as a scout and advisor providing crucial help and information to the Union Army.
- She helped lead the Combahee River Raid which was a raid of several southern plantations. The raid resulted in freeing over 700 slaves.
- Harriet Tubman helped recruit many freed slaves into the Union Army.
Harriet Tubman Conclusion
- In her later years she worked with Susan B. Anthony for women's suffrage.
- Despite her fame and service to her country she was never given a government salary and was denied any compensation for years after the Civil War.
- Harriet Tubman died from pneumonia on March 10th of 1913. She was buried with military honors in Auburn, New York.
- She has served as an inspiration and role model for numerous generations of African-Americans as they struggled for their civil rights.