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Harriet Tubman Essay, Research Paper

Sarah H. Bradford describes as being: the future deliverer of hundreds of her

people; the spy and scout of the Union Armies; the devoted hospital nurse; the protector

of hunted fugitives; the eloquent speaker in public meetings; the cunning eluder of

pursuing man-hunters; the heaven guided pioneer through dangers seen and unseen; and

“The Moses of her People”.

Harriet Tubman was an African American woman who escaped from slavery and

repeatedly made about 19 trips back to the South. Her brave actions led her to help about

300 slaves escape to freedom. She led them to the Underground Railroad, which helped

slaves flee to the free states and Canada.

By the early 19th century, white and black abolitionists, African American slaves,

American Indians, and members of religious groups including Quakers, Methodists, and

Baptists, had established the Underground Railroad. From my understanding, the

Underground Railroad was consisted of paths through woods, fields, ships, trains, and

crossing rivers, that would somehow lead you to your destination. This was a secret route

that slaves would use to escape into places like Indiana, Ohio, Pennslyvania, and Canada.

Stations were where runaways would hide during the day and the conductors would help

them escape. The Underground Railroad was also used for shelter. The travel was safe

from the South to the North, and Harriet became its most successful conductor. From the

very beginning, people tried to escape from slavery with varying measures of success.

The Underground Railroad was one of the causes leading to the Civil War.

Harriet Tubman was born in 1820, in Dorchester County, Maryland to Benjamin

Ross and Harriet Green, who was usually called Old Rit . There were no records made

of the date that Harriet Tubman was born, for the simple fact that neither of her parents

could read or write. She was one of 11 children who were all born to slave parents that

were from the Ashanti tribe of West Africa and worked as slaves on the Brodas

plantation. As a child, she was called Araminta, but later took her mother s first name,

Harriet. The nickname for Araminta was Minty. Young Harriet mostly worked inside of

the house, was considered to be a laborer out in the fields by the age of about seven. Her

family was owned by the Andrew Brodas, which also owned the plantation that they lived

on. . Ever since her early childhood, she constantly heard stories about escaping and how

some people were secretly taken up to the North, through what is known as the

Underground Railroad. When Harriet was thirteen, something tragic happened to her.

Harriet was told to capture an escaped slave, but she refused. In fact, she interfered by

trying to save the slave from being punished. For doing that, she was bashed over the

head with a two pound weight. Slowly, but shortly, she recovered from her injury, but

suffered severe headaches and blackouts for the rest of her life.

Throughout Harriet s childhood she worked harder and harder everyday. Harriet

never had a day of schooling. She was suddenly ripped out of infancy and placed into

slave labor. (Conrad, p.7) Despite all of her hard labor, she still thought that nothing was

better than having freedom. She knew that it was definitely time to do something about

that. But still, she never lost faith in herself and in God. Her parents taught her and quoted

bible verses while she was young. By reading, it seemed like Harriet always felt that the

prescence of God was with her and whenever she felt the need for prayer, she prayed.

In 1844, Harriet married a free black man, John Tubman. Back then, slaves and

freed blacks were allowed to get married, but anyone that was a slave had to stay one.

Even if they would ve had children, they would be turned over to the slave owners. .

They were married for about five years. She was taken away from her husband and sold

her to a slave trader.

After thinking long and hard, she finally decided that it was her time to escape.

She tried to get her brothers to join her on the journey, but they were scared and felt that it

was very dangerous. So one night she snuck into the dark woods, by herself, with a plan

to go to Pennsylvania. Her only guide was the North Star. She said, I had reasoned dis

out in my mind; there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty, or death; if I could

not have one, I would have de oder; for no man should take me alive; I should fight for

my liberty as long as my strength lasted, and when de time came for me to go, de Lord

would let dem take me”. ( Bradford, p. 29 It took her many days to reach her destination,

but she made it. There, she had jobs ranging from a seamstress and a scrubwoman to a

cook until December of 1850. Then the law put a $40,000 reward out to find her.

In 1793, The Fugitive Slave Law was passed to protect the rights of slave owners

by giving them the right to recapture runaways. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was

passed because of the high number of escaped slaves fleeing towards the north. The law

did not give escaped slaves that were on the run the right to a trial, let alone defend

themselves. The law only required a statement from a white person claiming the

ownership of the slave. The law also gave consequences to the people who helped slaves

escape to the north. Many people felt as though this law was a violation of their

constitutional rights. By 1851 the Fugitive Slave Law was forcing conductors to lead

slaves all the way to Canada.

The slaves all called her Moses, for she led her people to freedom. I feel that

Harriet Tubman is reminded of Moses in the Old Testament of the Bible. He was known

to draw out people. Moses led the people out of Egypt. He was determined just like

Harriet. Then he led the people on a forty-year journey through the wilderness.

. Well, around this time, there were a lot of revolutionary movements going on.

The Court systems were questioning if the Constitution favored blacks, like it did others.

During some other trips, she would make sure that all of passengers had weapons. John

Brown was fighting proslavery in Kansas. He was a radical abolitionist that led a group

who murdered Kansan settlers. He hired many blacks to plan an attack on Harpers Ferry.

He wanted her to assist him, in which she was planning on until she became ill. As a

result, about ten of twenty-one volunteers were killed and he surrendered. He was later

hung to death. After that she was involved in another raid. This was when she went back

to the south for her last trip. There, she picked up seven slaves. In 1860, Harriet began to

circle the nation appearing at anti-slavery meetings and speaking on women s rights.

On April 12, 1862, after the confederates attack on Charleston, the nation went to

war. During all of this, slaves weren t freed until 1863, when Lincoln signed the

Emancipation Proclamation. Harriet heard word that they needed help in the south, so she

went. She volunteered to be a nurse in a area down south where they had never heard of

Moses . She also helped whites soldiers who had been injured. She traveled from camp

to camp, wherever help was needed. She traveled from Beaufort to Florida. She would go

into the woods and take herbal roots to heal them. She also treated people with diseases.

The union officers soon changed her job from a nurse to a spy. Sometimes she, along

with others, would go deep into the enemy s territory and bring back information that

they saw or heard.

Harriet returned to her parents in 1864. She became very ill and suddenly began to

nurse herself back to good health. When she felt that she was healthy enough, she went

back to the battlefield. The war was coming to an end so she only worked for a short

period of time. When she was on her way back to Auburn, a conductor gave her a hard

time. He said that she couldn t sit with the whites. She then married Nelson Davis and

lived in the house that they built, which was near the original house. Nelson was more

than twenty years older than she was. She decided to marry him to take of him. He was

suffering with tuberculosis. He died on October 14, 1888, at the age of 44. In 1903,

Harriet turned her home and twenty-five acres of land over to the African Methodist

Episcopal Zion Church of Auburn, to be used for a home for the sick. In 1908, she built a

nursing home that would serve the purpose for older people. She called it the John Brown

House, in honor of the famous abolitionist fighter. During the time spent back in Auburn,

she became interested in the movement for women s suffrage. She also helped raise

money for schools and to help with providing some education for slaves that recently

became freed. Other activities that she enjoyed doing was volunteering and donating

things to homeless shelters. Ever since her childhood, she preferred working and doing

things on the outside rather than the inside. Therefore, planting a garden with different

kinds of fruits and vegetables was one of her hobbies as she got older. Harriet Tubman

later died in 1913, in which she was in her nineties.

She risked her life to a slave family and more than three hundred other slaves. Despite her

work as a slave, nurse, scout, and spy, she wasn t called Moses for nothing. Her being a

conductor of he Underground Railroad, freeing many slaves, and her belief in God

outweighed her life as a slave, including other trials and tribulations that she had to

overcome. Even though the bounties were after her, she never gave up. Her spiritual walk

with God enabled her to go on. She overcame a racist issue when she was told, by a

conductor, that she couldn t sit with whites.

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