Harriet Tubman was born Araminta “Minty” Ross around 1822 in Dorchester County, Maryland. She was born into slavery, a middle child among nine siblings, and grew up with her parents who were enslaved. Her mother was owned by the Brodess family, who hired Harriet to provide childcare, perform fieldwork, and check on muskrat traps. As a child, she experienced a head injury that lead to a lifetime of seizures, pain, and visions. She married John Tubman, a free Black man, and changed her name to Harriet Tubman. At age 27 she escaped to Philadelphia on her own traveling mostly at night.
“Tubman successfully escaped to Philadelphia in 1849. Once free, she became an operator of the Underground Railroad — a secret network of people, places, and routes that provided shelter and assistance to escaping slaves. She courageously returned to Maryland at least 13 times over the course of a decade to rescue her parents, brothers, family members, and friends, guiding them safely to freedom. By 1860, Tubman had earned the nickname “Moses” for liberating so many enslaved people at great risk to her own life.”
”Deeply admired by abolitionists in the North, Tubman became a trusted friend and advisor to many, which earned her a role in the Union Army as a scout, spy, nurse, and confidante of generals. After the Civil War, she moved to Auburn, NY, where she turned her attention to the plight of the needy, opening her home as a sanctuary for the elderly and ill and those with disabilities.”
“Even before the Civil War, she was fighting for the rights of women, minorities, the disabled, and the aged. She became more active with time. She went on to open a nursing home for African Americans on her property in New York. She continued to agitate for women’s rights until her death in 1913. By then, Tubman had become the subject of numerous articles, recollections, and an autobiography.”
She died on March 10, 1913, and is buried in Auburn, NY.
In learning about Harriet Tubman’s history it’s clear that despite having a traumatic brain injury and could not read or write that she was an activist from a young age until her death.
Would you like to take a deeper dive into history? Here are additional resources:
“An executive order in March 2013 established the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument and marked the landscape of Dorchester County, Maryland for its historical significance to Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. At the creation of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park a year later, the National Park Service identified land in Dorchester, Talbot, and Caroline Counties for potential future acquisition. The Conservation Fund donated the only land currently owned by the National Park Service—480 acres at the Jacob Jackson site, the home of a free African American who delivered a message for Tubman that she was returning to guide her brothers to freedom.
The National Park Service also administers a sister park in Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, New York, where Harriet Tubman lived in her later years.”
“More than a century after her death, Harriet Tubman would still recognize many places in the Eastern Shore of Maryland’s mosaic of waterways, forests, and fields. Stops along the byway make it possible to learn about the lives of enslaved and free Blacks, abolitionists, and slaveholders, as well as escape routes used by Tubman and her fellow freedom seekers.”
If you would like to see a map of the journey Harriet Tubman made open this link for the Tubman Byway: Learn Harriet Tubman’s story on a road trip through her homeland & more (harriettubmanbyway.org)
To learn more about Harriet Tubman, please visit our JEDI page!