#95: Harriet Tubman


painting of harriet tubmanThe exact date of Harriet Tubman's birth is not know, but it is thought to be in 1819 or 1820. She was born into slavery in Maryland. As a child, she worked first as a house slave, then as a field hand. In her early teens, she sustained a serious head injury while trying to keep another slave from being whipped.

In or around 1844, Harriet married a free black man, John Tubman. Afraid that she would be sold south, she escaped in 1948 via the Underground Railroad. After a year or so, she returned south to help others escape to freedom. Her husband had taken another wife, but Harriet was undeterred, returning to the South again and again to help slaves escape, many to Canada. By 1856, the bounty on Harriet's head was $40,000.

By 1860, Harriet had made the trip to help slaves escape 19 times. She is believed to have conducted nearly 300 people to safety in the North. John Brown called her "one of the bravest persons on this continent."

During the Civil War, Harriet worked for the Union as a cook and nurse, and even as a spy. She was refused payment for these services.

After the War, Harriet settled in upstate New York, where she built a home for the aged and needy. She remarried and lived the rest of her life there. She died in 1913.

New York History Net

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