One of the most remarkable abolitionists, Harriet Tubman, was born in Dorchester County , Maryland in the early 1820's. She was born to Harriet Greene and Benjamin Ross, who were not permitted to marry because of laws prohibiting the marriage of slaves.
Harriet had a difficult childhood because she was forced to work on the farm of her master at an early age. She was often abused verbally and physically because her master thought that she wasn't smart. When she was thirteen, Harriet was hit in the head with a rock that was thrown by her master. As a result she suffered occasional blackouts for the remainder of her life.
Around the age of 25, Harriet planned to escape and travel north with her husband and two of her brothers. Harriet was able to reach her destination in the north, but her husband and brothers changed their minds and went back.
Harriet sought assistance from abolitionist to help her get settled in the north but she could not rest knowing that her family, friends, and many other Negroes were held in . That is how Harriet Tubman became a conductor for the Underground Railroad. This was an intricate system used by slaves to escape from the south to Ohio, New England, or Canada. They traveled by wagon, train, boat, and horseback finding shelter in a friendly house or church along the way.
Harriet made 19 trips back to Maryland to help members of her family and other slaves to escape to freedom. Although she was a small woman who couldn't read or write, she assisted over 300 slaves to the land of freedom. Using her natural wit, and the help of abolitionist along the way , she traveled throughout the year, both day and night. She had many close encounters with slave traders and others who tried to capture her but she didn't get caught. She could proudly say that under her leadership, a slave was never lost. Because of this activity Harriet Tubman was a wanted criminal in states when slavery was legal.
During the Civil War, Harriet served as a spy, nurse, scout, and cook for the Union Soldiers. After the war, Harriet settled down in Auburn , New York to establish a home for old age Negroes.
The United States government only gave Harriet Tubman $20.00 a month for her service with the Union Army. Even so, she had to wait 30 years to receive her checks. With limited funds and help from friends , she struggled to keep the home open.
Harriet spent most of her life working to make life better for others. Today, in Cambridge, Maryland there is a street named for her and her achievements have rightfully earned her the title, "The Black Moses of Her Race."
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