Harriet Tubman 

Harriet Tubman was an escaped slave, famed for leading over 70 slaves toward freedom via a network of safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. It was in this way that she undertook numerous missions to rescue her family and friends, enduring poverty so that she could spend her savings on the freedom of other slaves.

See below to learn more about Harriet Tubman.
Date of Birth and Parents:
Born approximately 1820-1821 in Maryland to Harriet and Benjamin Ross, Harriet Tubman was given the name Arminta by her parents.

Date of Death:
Harriet died from pneumonia in 1913 in a care home built upon the land that she had donated some years previous.

Spouse and Children:
Harriet was married to a free man named John Tubman, however, though Harriet came back after her escape to the North to rescue family and friends, she found that John had re-married.

Harriet later married Nelson Davis in 1869; though the two did not have any biological children, they adopted a baby girl named Gertie.

Harriet Tubman was frequently loaned out by her master when she was young, but at the age of sixteen she was permanently injured when her current employer threw a metal weight from weighing scales at an escaping slave. This instead struck Harriet, causing migraines, visions and convulsions throughout her life.

Harriet Tubman escaped from her master twice. The first time she was accompanied by her brothers, but they soon grew fearful and took her  back. Shortly after this she fled to the North, only travelling at night until she set foot on free soil.

The Underground Railroad:
Working in hotels in Philadelphia to fund her trips back to the South, Harriet made numerous journeys to rescue friends and family. Travelling the well-kept secret routes known as The Underground Railroad, the slaves would be shepherded to various homes belonging to abolitionists until they were in free states.

This was incredibly dangerous; acting as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Harriet often heard others discussing the reward for her capture, and frequently resorted to wearing disguises or creating distractions in order to pass unnoticed past friends of her master. Where slaves became scared and begged to go back to their master, Harriet would brandish a pistol and spur them on in order to avoid the secrets of the Underground Railroad being leaked to the South. Friend and abolitionist Thomas Garrett wrote in 1868 that as to the best of his knowledge, no slave in her care had been arrested, and other friends had commented that they believed she had made up to nineteen trips to rescue other slaves.

The Fugitive Slave Act:
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 meant that escaped slaves were no longer safe in the North as citizens were required by law to detain them. Instead Harriet led the slaves up in to Canada on foot.

The Civil War ad Racial Discrimination:
During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman would spend her time cleaning wounds and waving away the flies that settled upon the soldiers, assisting those with dysentery and smallpox, all without pay or pension.

Despite her efforts in the war she was still subject to racial discrimination. Going home from the hospital on one occasion, she was forcibly escorted out of a train due to holding a half fare ticket; the ticket that other soldiers and government workers were entitled to use.

Harriet Tubman also saw battle and acted as a spy of sorts; she was a valuable asset to the North as they liberated slaves from the South, earning the nickname 'General Tubman'.

Poverty and Later Life:
Harriet remained poverty stricken throughout her life, relying on the charitable donations from friends such as Thomas Garrett and other stationmasters of the Underground Railroad.

Sarah Hopkins Bradford's biography, 'Scenes in the life of Harriet Tubman' was published in 1869 to alleviate some of Harriet Tubman's financial burden; however, though poor, Harriet Tubman donated a parcel of land for use as a care home in which she resided from 1911 to 1913 until her death.

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