Biography of Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman, born around 1822 in Dorchester County, Maryland, was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the American Civil War. She is best known for her work as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses that helped enslaved African Americans escape to free states and Canada.
Tubman was born into slavery on a plantation owned by Edward Brodess. She experienced the harsh realities of slavery from a young age, enduring physical abuse and witnessing the separation of her family members through sale. In her early twenties, she escaped from slavery herself, embarking on a dangerous journey to freedom in the North.
After reaching Philadelphia, Tubman became involved in the abolitionist movement. However, she felt compelled to return to the South to rescue her family members and help other enslaved individuals gain their freedom. Over a period of around 11 years, Tubman made approximately 13 missions back to the South, guiding an estimated 70 enslaved people, including family and friends, to freedom.
Tubman’s methods were ingenious and daring. She relied on her knowledge of the land, disguises, and her ability to navigate using the North Star and other natural landmarks. Tubman was highly effective at eluding slave catchers and bounty hunters, earning her the nickname “Moses” for leading her people out of bondage.
During the Civil War, Tubman served as a nurse, cook, and spy for the Union Army. She became the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, assisting Colonel James Montgomery in a successful raid in South Carolina that freed over 700 enslaved people. Tubman’s knowledge of the land and the intelligence she gathered were invaluable to the Union forces.
After the war, Tubman continued her advocacy for the rights of African Americans and women. She was involved in the women’s suffrage movement and worked alongside prominent figures such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Tubman also established a home for the elderly and indigent African Americans in Auburn, New York, where she lived for most of her life.
In her later years, Tubman suffered from health issues, including seizures, believed to be a result of a head injury she had sustained during her time as a slave. Despite her health challenges, she remained an active and influential figure in the fight against racial injustice until her death on March 10, 1913.
Harriet Tubman’s legacy as a courageous freedom fighter and humanitarian continues to inspire people around the world. Her contributions to the abolitionist movement, her role in the Underground Railroad, and her dedication to the cause of equality make her one of the most iconic figures in American history.
Harriet Tubman’s achievements were numerous and had a significant impact on the fight against slavery and the advancement of civil rights. Here are some of her notable accomplishments:
Conductor on the Underground Railroad:
Tubman made approximately 13 dangerous missions back to the South, leading enslaved individuals to freedom through the Underground Railroad. She is estimated to have helped around 70 people escape from slavery, risking her own life to guide them to safety.
Tubman was an active abolitionist, advocating for the end of slavery and speaking at various anti-slavery gatherings. She worked alongside prominent abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison, contributing to the movement to abolish slavery in the United States.
Union Army Service:
During the American Civil War, Tubman served as a nurse, cook, and spy for the Union Army. She provided valuable intelligence to the Union forces, gathering information about Confederate positions and plans. Tubman’s knowledge of the terrain and her ability to navigate covertly were instrumental in the success of several military operations.
Combahee River Raid:
Tubman played a pivotal role in the Combahee River Raid, a military operation led by Colonel James Montgomery in June 1863. Tubman accompanied the expedition as a guide and scout, leading Union gunboats along the river to free hundreds of enslaved people from plantations in South Carolina.
Women’s Suffrage and Civil Rights:
After the Civil War, Tubman continued her activism for the rights of African Americans and women. She attended suffrage conventions and worked alongside suffragists such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Tubman recognized the importance of women’s rights in the broader struggle for equality.
Tubman established the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn, New York, which served as a refuge for elderly and indigent African Americans. She dedicated her time and resources to caring for those in need, demonstrating her commitment to improving the lives of others.
Harriet Tubman’s contributions to American history and the fight against slavery have been widely recognized. In 2016, it was announced that Tubman would be the first African American woman to appear on U.S. currency, with her image being featured on the $20 bill. Although the redesign has been delayed, the decision underscores her lasting impact on the nation.
Harriet Tubman’s courage, determination, and selflessness in the face of immense challenges and oppression have made her an iconic figure in the struggle for freedom and equality. Her achievements continue to inspire and resonate with people around the world.