Harriet Ross Tubman was an African American who escaped from slavery and then guided runaway slaves to freedom in the North for more than a decade before the American Civil War. During the war she served as a scout, spy, and nurse for the United States Army. In later years she continued to work for the rights of blacks and women. Harriet Tubman Essay, a great African American woman, escaped from slavery, started the Underground Railroad and worked for the rights of blacks and women.
Harriet Tubman, originally named Araminta Ross, as one of 11 children bon to slaves Harriet Greene and Benjamin Ross on a plantation in Dorchester County, Maryland.
She later adopted her mothers first name. Harriet was put to work at the age of five and served as a maid and a childrens nurse before becoming a field worker when she was twelve. About a year later, an overseer hit Harriet in the head with a weight while trying to protect another slave. Harriets mother thought that prayer would calm things down, so she prayed. Unfortunately Harriet lay in a coma for weeks. She slept in the bed of rags in the corner of he windowless wooden cabin.
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Doctors were never wasted on slaves, so nobody knew what Harriet was really diagnosed with, although they knew that she had a fractured skull. Later Harriet began to suffer with sleeping fits. These attacks occurred without warning wherever she might be. She suddenly would fall into a deep sleep and couldnt be awakened. This incident would take place as often as 3 to 4 times a day.
In 1844 she received permission from her master to marry John Tubman, a free black man. For the next five years Harriet Tubman lived in a state of semi-slavery: she remained a legally a slave, but her master allowed her to live with her husband. However, the death of her master in 1847, followed by the death of his young son and heir in 1849, made Tubmans status uncertain and she didnt want to be sold so she fled to the North and freedom. Her husband remained in Maryland. In 1849, Harriet Tubman moved to Pennsylvania, but retuned to Maryland two years later hoping to persuade her husband to come North with her. By this time John Tubman had remarried.
Harriet did not marry again until after Tubmans death. (Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia par. 5)
In Pennsylvania, Harriet Tubman joined the abolitionist cause, working to end slavery. She decided to become a conductor on the Underground Railroad, a network of antislavery activists who helped slaves escape from the South. On her first trip in 1850, Tubman brought her own sister and her sisters two children out of slavery in Maryland. In 1851 she rescued her brother, and in 1857 returned to Maryland to guide her aged parents to freedom.
Over a period of ten years Tubman made an estimated 19 trips into the South and personally escorted about 300 slaves to the North. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 had federal commissioners in every county to assist in the return of runaways and provided harsh punishments for those convicted of helping slaves to escape. Harriet Tubman was a likely target of the law, so in 1851 she moved to St. Catherine, a city in Ontario, Canada, that was the destination of many escaped slaves. By the late 1850s a number of Northern states passed personal liberty laws that protected the rights of fugitive slaves, so Tubman was able to purchase land and move with her parents to Auburn, New York, a center of antislavery. (Levine 27)
Harriet inherited strong religious faith from her parents.
While living in St. Catherines, Ontario, she attended the BME church. During her life in Auburn, Harriet played a significant role in the formation and progress of the Thompson memorial AME Zion Church. Many of the slaves that Harriet helped escape went to the church. (Bradford 33)
Tubman faced great danger guiding slaves to freedom as Southerners offered large rewards for her capture. Tubman brilliantly used disguises-sometimes posing as a deranged old man and at other times as an old woman to avoid suspicion when traveling in .