The Life of Harriet Tubman

So, today we will be talking about Harriet Tubman. She was an American Bondwoman who escaped from slavery and who became a leading abolitionist before the Civil War. She led hundreds to freedom and was the most famous ‘conductor’ of the Underground Railroad. She was brave, persistent, noble and courageous. She sets a great example for people of all ages. So let’s dive deeper into the life of Harriet Tubman. 


Araminta Harriet Tubman–nicknamed Minty–was born in 1820 in Dorchester County, Maryland. She was born to two slaves and was purely African. When her mother’s owner’s son (who had already sold three of Minty’s sisters) had a buyer who was interested in buying Minty’s youngest brother, Her mother resisted and successfully trashed the idea of selling any more of her family. That of which set a very powerful example for Minty. Physical violence was part of everyday for Minty’s family. One day she got five lashes before breakfast, and they stayed there for the rest of her life. The most violent and damaging injury she got, was when she was sent out for supplies from the store. She encountered a slave who had left their plantation without permission. The slaves owner told Minty to help tie him to a tree to get punished and she refused. The owner threw a two pound bag at her and it struck her forehead. She had seizures, head aches and visions for the rest of her life. The ‘visions’ she had, she proclaimed were from God and that during these ‘visions’ she could see angels. By the time Minty was an adult, half of the African-American slaves had made it to Eastern shores of Maryland and were free. Minty married a free slave named John Tubman. When she married, Minty took up the name Harriet in honor of her mother. 


In 1849 Harriet Tubman made her famous escape. She and her two brothers made a run for freedom on September 17, 1849. An award was put up in a newspaper, offering three hundred dollars for the return of Harriet and her two brothers. Her brothers had second thoughts and as soon as Harriet made sure they were safely back, she continued onward. She used the Underground Rail round to hike 90 miles to Philadelphia. She crossed into Pennsylvania and said later, “When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.”. 

I had crossed the line. I was free but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land. -Harriet Tubman

Slave Freer 

Instead of staying there where she was safe, she decided to make it her mission to free her family and others partnered in slavery. In December 1859, Harriet received word that her niece, Kessiah, was going to be sold along with her two little children. Kessiah’s husband, John Bowley, made the winning bid for them and Harriet guided them all the way to Philadelphia. Harriet got the nickname ‘Moses’ for her leadership. Over time, she helped her parents, many siblings and about sixty other slaves make the journey. One family member who declined was Harriet’s husband, who wanted to stay in Maryland with his new wife. -_- In 1858, Harriet was introduced to John Brown, an abolitionist who wanted to use violence to end slavery. Harriet said that she saw him in vision before they met. 0_0

I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.-Harriet Tubman

I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.-Harriet Tubman

The Civil War

Harriet began serving in the war as a cook and nurse. She then became an armed scout and spy, who led the Combahee River Raid, or as I like to call it: ‘MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: HARRIET PROTOCOL, which liberated seven hundred slaves in South Carolina. Pure Awesomeness right there. 

Life in the quiet end

In early 1859, abolitionist Senator William H. Seward sold Tubman a small piece of land on the outskirts of Auburn, New York. Yippy! The land became a haven for her family and fellow slaves. Into her late years, Harriet tended to caring for whoever lived there and her family. In 1869 she married Civil War veteran Nelson Davis and in 1874 they adopted a baby girl named Gertie. Despite her fame and reputation, Harriet was never financially secure, though her friends and family raised funds to support her. One woman named  Sarah H. Bradford, wrote a biography on Harriet titled, ‘In the life of Harriet Tubman”. She gave the proceeds she got from the book, to Harriet and her family. In 1903, Harriet donated a part of the land to the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Using the land, the church built The Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged in 1908. But as she grew older, her head injuries became more brutal and she had to undergo brain surgery to stop the ‘buzzing’ she heard regularly. She eventually was admitted to the home, named in her honor. Surrounded by friends and family, Harriet died of pneumonia in 1913. She was ninety-three years old.

Harriet Tubman was a hero to all who knew her and all who know of her. She became an American icon years after death. A survey at the end of the 20th century named her as one of the most famous civilians in American history before the Civil War, third only to Betsy Ross and Paul Revere. She continues to inspire all who read her story with her boldness and courageousness. Dozens of schools were named in her honor, and both the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn and the Harriet Tubman Museum in Cambridge, serve as monuments to her life.

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars, to change the world.-Harriet Tubman

For more in depth information please visit

Grimm, Laura. 2015 Harriet Tubman, A.E Television Network, LLC

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