Harriet Tubman is one of the most celebrated heroes of the antislavery movement and one of the most famous conductors of the Underground Railroad. Born into slavery in Maryland, she escaped in 1849 and subsequently made thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy enslaved people, family and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad.
During the American Civil War, Tubman worked for the Union Army, first as a cook and nurse, and then as an armed scout and spy. She was also assigned to spy on Confederate troop movements by Union generals (a task for which her intimate knowledge of local terrain reportedly served her well). Tubman was the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war. She freed slaves through raids of plantations and gave critical information of troop movements to generals in the Union Army.
In her later years, Tubman was an active member of the women’s suffrage movement. She died of pneumonia on March 10, 1913 at the age of 93. Since her death, she has been celebrated as an American hero.