Harriet Tubman and Underground Railroad

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Known as the ‘Moses’ of her people, Harriet Tubman helped many enslaved people escape to freedom and also in the Civil War as a nurse, spy, and even a soldier. The name Moses came from slaves traveling with her on the Underground Railroad because she acted like Moses from the bible leading slaves to freedom. Though Harriet was a courageous and fearless woman, she suffered from narcolepsy which caused her to having sleeping spells or dreams that she thought had happened in real life. She once said “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

She got the want to help slaves escapepe from her sleeping spells when she thought God was talking to her and told her how to become a free person. Harriet Tubman, originally named Araminta “Minty” Ross, was born into slavery around the year 1820 in Dorchester, Maryland. When Minty was in her teens, she was on a walk to the store and the owner threw a two pound brick at another enslaved fugitive but missed and hit her instead. This caused her to have sleeping spells. She was sent to work back with her father where she learned how to lumber and also learned about secret communications that happened along trade routes. This information she gained from these trade routes was very useful later on in her life.

Harriet Tubman helped many people throughout her lifetime. She got the idea of escaping to Pennsylvania from one of her sleeping spells where she thought God gave her directions on how to escape. In 1844, Harriet Tubman married a free man named John Tubman. Following her marriage, she changed her name; Harriet in honor of her mother, and Tubman from her husband. During her next trip, she took her family and freed them in the north. Not long after that, her owner died and his widow was wanting to sell all the slaves, Harriet feared that she would be sold away from her family.

She had heard about the Underground Railroad and got the idea to escape to freedom with her loved ones. In her first trip, she took her brothers; along the way, her brothers thought that Harriet had got them lost in the middle of the woods and made her turn back to the plantations. She took another trip by herself, but when she came back, her husband had already remarried to another woman. But, that didn’t stop her from helping other escape slavery. On her trips, she carried a gun and threatened to shoot them if they wanted to turn back because it could get them caught. Her code name was Moses for leading people to freedom like Moses from the bible. Harriet also carried a gun so when a person wanted to turn back, she threatened then because it was even riskier than escaping.

Along with the gun, she carried a hymnal and a bible. She would read the bible when someone looked at her to look distracted and occupied so they would not suspect anything. In addition to the gun and hymnal, she carried a drug to use on a baby in case it started crying and create even more danger. On the trip, the slaves would sing the song, “Go Down Moses” envisioning when they were going to become free and there freedom. When Harriet took a trip North, she left on a Saturday because the newspaper announcing missing slaves wouldn’t be published until the following Monday after they had traveled away.

Traveling along the Underground Railroad was very helpful to Harriet Tubman later in her life. Throughout her lifetime, she had rescued over three-hundred slaves in a total of nineteen trips. After she completed her trips, she worked in the Civil War as a guerilla soldier, a nurse, a cook, and a spy. The remedies Harriet had learned from back home became very helpful to cure a sickness called dysentery; most soldiers who got this experienced vomiting and diarrhea. Since she traveled forth on the Underground Railroad, she had overheard many conversations about politics and what happened on trade routes.

This information assisted her when she became a spy for Colonel James Montgomery and his soldiers to capture South Carolina rice plantations, they damaged many plantations but also freed many slaves that worked on those plantations. The slaves would pretend to be enslaved and working to gain incredibly useful information because the white men thought the slaves couldn’t understand them since they didn’t know how to read or write. Before they went to plantations to gain information, Harriet taught them simple phrases in English and what to do considering the slaves didn’t know much previously.

In addition to the information the Union soldiers gained from the slave-spies, working slaves would tell the soldiers where the confederate soldiers had dropped barrels containing gunpowder in the river to attack the Union’s boats. This work that fugitive slaves like Harriet Tubman was extremely risky since they were still slaves. In 1869, she married Nelson Davis, who she met during the war and became very close, in a Presbyterian Church; even though he was twenty-two years younger than her. Soon after her marriage, the newly wedded couple adopted a girl by the name Gertie.

Following the war, Harriet Tubman raised funds for freedom and joined campaigns participating in the women’s suffrage. She cared for her sick parents and nursed them back to a healthy state and returned back to work as a nurse helping ill patients. Once the thirteenth amendment was passed saying that slavery was illegal; slaves were still not treated equally and not given the same attention. They were not allowed to go to the same restaurants, schools, parks, and even use the same bathrooms or drink from the same water fountains.

Because of this, Harriet created a elderly home called the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged on land near her home since African- Americans were not allowed to use the same hospitals and receive the same medications or assistance. But the problem was that Harriet needed money to run it; so, Fredrick Douglas reminded the government that they hadn’t paid Harriet any money from her intensive help and work in the army. The government finally awarded Harriet eight dollars a month in 1899 that would help Harriet pay the expense of her elderly home. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough money to continue to run the home and care for all of her patients, thus she asked Sarah Bradford to write a biography called Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman for her; Sarah agreed and decided to donate all the proceeds to Harriet to help her run her elderly home.

In addition to her elderly home, she raised funds for formerly enslaved people, schools, and also a hospital. Furthermore, she took part in the women’s suffrage along with Susan B. Anthony. For the rest of her life, she retired but kept working to take care of ill and elderly people at her elderly home. When Harriet had to have brain surgery, she refused to receive anesthesia but she insisted that she chew a bullet like a wounded soldier would do in a battle field if they were injured. Sadly, on March 10, 1913, Harriet Tubman passed away due to pneumonia; her final words were, “I go away to prepare a place for you”.

“I never ran my train off the track and never lost a single passenger”. This is a famous quote from Harriet Tubman; it also symbolizes many things that help make up our country. Today, in our world, slavery does not exist in that form in today’s world. Slavery is a brutal thought; having to work, not being paid, harsh work, and being mistreated. Harriet put her life on the line to help other fugitive slaves escape to freedom. Harriet had a dream of becoming free and wanted to share that dream with others.

Every time she went back to help slaves escape, she could have been killed very easily; but that thought did not stop Harriet. She spent her life being selfless and courageous leader. At that time, there were not many people who put there life on the line and put there life aside to help others; the fact that Harriet took many trips back and forth when she knew she could be caught or even killed made her even more of a hero in our society. Throughout history, there have not been many that have been as courageous, selfless, and as influential as Tubman.

One example is Mother Teresa, she worked her life to help others but even she can’t be compared to Harriet who risked her life everyday caring for other people and helping them achieve their dreams. Another example is Oskar Schindler; during the holocaust he bought over one-thousand jews and sent them to freedom. Harriet put the idea that freedom was possible in the minds of slaves and even helped them escape. She had a huge impact on the world that people don’t realize; how she dedicated her whole entire lifetime helping others, working to achieve equality, freeing others, and standing up for her rights, what she believed in and stood up for her rights.


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Harriet Tubman and Underground Railroad. (2021, Mar 11). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/harriet-tubman-and-underground-railroad/

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