The Struggles and Triumphs of Harriet Tubman

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Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in Dorchester County on the Eastern shore of Maryland, on the plantation of Edward Brodas. Her birth name was Araminta, and she was called Minty until she changed her name to Harriet in her early teen years. The reason why she changed her name was because she wanted to be named after her mother who was also named Harriet. Her parents, Benjamin Ross and Harriet Green, were enslaved Ashanti Africans who had eleven children, and saw many of there older children get sold into the Deep South. At five years old, Araminta was “rented” to neighbors to do housework. She was never very good at household chores, and was beaten regularly by her owners and those who rented her.

She eventually was assigned work as a field hand, which she preferred over household work. Although she was a small woman, she was strong, and her time working in the fields probably contributed to her strength. At age fifteen she sustained a head injury, when she purposely blocked the path of the overseer pursuing a fellow slave, and was hit by the heavy weight the overseer tried to fling at the other slave. Harriet sustained a severe concussion and was ill. She took a long time recovering from this injury, and never fully recovered. She had periodic sleeping fits. Her fits made her look less attractive when someone tried to buy her. When the old master died, the son who inherited the slaves was able to hire Harriet out to a lumber merchant, where her work was respected and where she was allowed to keep some money she earned from extra work. In 1844, Harriet married John Tubman, a free black man.

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The marriage was apparently not a good match, from the beginning. It was shortly after her marriage that Harriet hired a lawyer to investigate her own legal history, and discovered that her mother had been freed on a technicality on the death of a former owner. But the lawyer advised Harriet that a court would be unlikely to hear the case, so Tubman dropped it. But knowing that she should have been born free, not a slave, caused her to consider freedom and dislike her situation. In 1849, several events came together to encourage Harriet Tubman to take her freedom. She heard that two of her brothers were about to be sold to the Deep South. She tried to persuade her brothers to escape with her, but ended up leaving alone. Harriet made the 90 mile trip to the Mason-Dixon Line with the help of contacts along the Underground Railroad. She had to hike through swamps and woodland.

Harriet’s trip was successful, and she settled in Philadelphia. She worked as a dishwasher and made plans to rescue her family. The next year, Harriet traveled back to Maryland and rescued her sister’s family. She then returned to transport her brothers to the North. She went back for her husband, but he had remarried and did not want to follow her. In 1857, Harriet finally returned for her parents and settled them in Auburn, New York. By this time, Harriet was becoming quite well known and huge rewards were offered for her capture. Harriet was the master of disguise. Her former master did not even recognize her when they ran into each other on the street. She was nicknamed the “Moses of her people” for leading them to freedom.

Harriet Tubman was only about five feet tall, but she was smart and was strong. She carried a large rifle. She used the rifle not only to intimidate pro-slavery people they might meet, but also to keep any of the slaves from backing out. She threatened any who seemed like they were about to leave, telling them that “dead Negroes tell no tales.” A slave who returned from one of these trips could betray too many secrets: who had helped, what paths the flight had taken, how messages were passed. In all, Harriet made 19 trips on the Underground Railroad and freed more than 300 slaves.

With the arrival of the Civil War, Harriet became a spy for the Union army. She later worked in Washington DC as a government nurse. Although Harriet won admiration from the military, she did not receive a government pension for more than 30 years. At the end of the war, Harriet returned to her parents in Auburn. She was extremely poor and the profits of a book by Sarah Bradford entitled DD,ÑSScenes in the LifeDD,Ñce of Harriet Tubman, published in 1869 were a financial great help. In 1870, Harriet married Nelson Davis, who she had met at a South Carolina army base. They were happily married for 18 years until Davis’ death. In 1896, Harriet purchased land to build a home for sick and needy blacks. However, she was unable to raise enough money to build the house and ultimately gave the land to the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. The church completed the home in 1908, and Harriet moved there several years later. She spent her last years in the home telling stories of her life to visitors.

On March 10, 1913, Harriet died of pneumonia. She was 93 years old. Harriet Tubman was not afraid to fight for the rights of African-Americans. Her story is one of dedication and inspiration. During her lifetime Harriet was honored by many people. In 1897, her bravery even inspired Queen Victoria to award her a silver medal. I chose Harriet Tubman because she is my inspiration, you could be black and still make a difference. Harriet Tubman saved a lot of people from dieing in slavery and I bet every single one of them are grateful.

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The Struggles and Triumphs of Harriet Tubman. (2022, Dec 23). Retrieved from

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