Guest Author - Vance Rowe
Harriet Tubman, also known as “the Moses of her people”, worked diligently to help free slaves before the Civil War began. Being a former slave herself, Harriet Tubman knew of the hardships that the slaves faced and made it her life’s mission to help them escape to a better life.
Harriet Tubman was born into slavery. She was born, Araminta Ross to parents who were slaves in Maryland’s Eastern shore. She was born into a large family and her exact birth date is unknown because slave owners rarely kept records of slavery births. She would later change her first name to Harriet, her mother’s name. At the age of six, Harriet Tubman was loaned out to other plantation owners as her siblings were illegally sold to plantation owners out of state. Her first job was checking traps for muskrats in the river. However, she became sick and could not work and was returned to her home plantation. Tubman was malnourished and suffered from exposure to the cold. Once she was better, Harriet Tubman was lent out again to another plantation where she worked as a nursemaid to the plantation owner’s child.
When she was a teenager, Harriet Tubman began working as a field hand, where she plowed fields and hauled wood. When she was in her twenties, she asked permission to marry and live with a freeman named John Tubman. She received the permission to do so but she still had to work for the plantation owner.
In 1849, Harriet Tubman and two of her brothers had escaped from the plantation when their owner had died. They were afraid they would be sold off. The brothers were afraid they would be caught and punished, possibly killed for the escape, so the slaves returned to the plantation. It wasn’t long after this that Tubman escaped on her own, traveled at night and used the North Star and instructions given to her by people on the already partly established underground railroad. She made it to Philadelphia Pennsylvania and worked odd jobs and made plans to return to Maryland to help other slaves escape.
Harriet Tubman spent the next 12 years of her freedom helping slaves escapes and working with other abolitionist groups. When the Civil War broke out, Tubman served with the Union army, doing whatever she could to help. She worked as a nurse, helped with the fugitive slaves that began to show up at the Union army camps, and also cooked meals. Soon she became a scout and a spy behind Confederate lines and in 1863, Harriet Tubman became the first American woman to command an armed military raid as well. She led Colonel James Montgomery and his regiment, composed of mostly freed black men. They sought out Confederate outposts and destroyed stockpiles of food, weapons, and cotton and helped to free more than 700 slaves.
After the war was over, Harriet Tubman became a humanitarian, a community activist, and was also an active member of the womens suffrage movement. Harriet Tubman died in 1913 in Auburn, New York and was interred at the Fort Hill cemetery and was buried with Military honors.