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Harriet Tubman was a well-known civil rights campaigner. She escaped slavery and spearheaded abolitionist movements during her lifetime. In this manner, she was able to guide many individuals out of slavery and away from the white enslavers using underground railways. In the year 1849, Tubman was born into slavery. Maryland was her birthplace. She was able to escape slavery in 1849 and became renowned as the "conductor" on the Underground Railroad. In essence, the Underground Railroad was a complex covert network of safe homes through which family members and slaves from the plantation were conveyed. Among her many roles in the fight against slavery, Tubman was able to help the Union army as being a spy during the war.

Harriet Tubman’s Life History and Contribution to Humanity

The main aim and dedication of Harriet Tubman when the civil war came to a halt was assisting the old and slaves in managing their daily lives. In the contribution towards removing slavery in the society, he took the position of Andrew Jackson in the Treasury Department at the center of the twenty dollar bill. The development was motivated by public comments that suggested that the public needed an American woman to appear on the dollar bill. She was voted by over half a million Americans in a poll. In such a way, Harriet Tubman has always been considered as one who devoted her life to ending slavery and fight for women’s rights (Adler et al. 91). Additionally, she has always been seen as a woman who fought alongside many other suffragists in the war. The main reason why Tubman was chosen to replace Jackson in the 20 dollar bill was that she assisted in the evacuation of the Native Americans. The latter specifically boosted her popularity and she was greatly praised.

Notably, Harriet Tubman was among the nine siblings born between the year 1832 and 1808 in Dorchester. After her marriage, she changed her named to Harriet from the original Araminta Ross to honor her mother. Harriet’s early life was full of problems and hardships because of the severe torture that slaves underwent at the time. The son of Mary Brodess sold three of Harriet’s siblings to distant plantations. After losing three sisters, a trader from Georgia approached her owner, her father, Ritt, but he resisted the moved and was forced to pay painfully. The latter further fractured the family. In essence, Tubman and her family were frequently subjected to physical pain. For instance, Harriet would sometimes be lashed more than five times before breakfast. She carried all these scars all her life. When Tubman was an adolescent, she got one her most severe injuries. The latter happened when she went to a good store to acquire supplies. Moreover, she met up with a slave that left the fields without permission. Moreover, she suggested that they both escape the plantation and run away. After Harriet’s refusal to concur with the escape plan, the slave threw a two-pound weight to her head. For this reason, Tubman occasionally had migraines and seizures for the rest of her life. In essence, she had powerful dreaming that she believed to be spiritual proficiencies.

At this time, the definition of freedom and slavery was unclear. At the age of 45, Harriet’s father was released from captivity (Clinton 230). This was motivated by the will that was left by his previous owner. Even after his release, her father did not have much of a choice than continuing to work as a vendor of timber. Harriet’s father worked as a foreman for his previous owner. His release, however, did not mean that his family would be released. Having little power to challenge his family’s owners, he had no choice but to continue working under harsh conditions.

In 1844, Harriet married John Tubman, one of the free black men. At this time, most of the black Americans resided in Maryland were free. Marrying an enslaved person while being free was considered as being weird; thus, she settled for a free man. Although little is known about Harriet’s marriage to Tubman, nothing is known about her having any children of her own and whether they were free or not. Later on, John preferred staying in Maryland and found another wife; hence, dropping Harriet (Clinton 78). In the year 1869, Harriet married another man, Nelson Davis, who took center stage in civil war as a veteran. They later lived with Gertie who was an adopted child.

In the year 1849, Harriet’s owner died from an illness, she then decided to leave Maryland for Philadelphia. At this time, she looked down at herself and saw herself as a low economic value slave. She was concerned about the events that would come after, and had feared that her family would have a worse life (Adler et al. 123). Harriet was accompanied by her two brothers Harry and Ben. During the journey to Philadelphia, the Cambridge Democrat offered a three hundred dollar reward to anyone who returns Harry and Ben to the owner. This made the two feared for their lives and they returned to the plantation. The latter, however, did not faze Harriet since she had no intentions of returning to bondage. She returned her brothers to the plantation and began a long journey to Pennsylvania. While crossing Pennsylvania, she had a feeling of relief and wonderment since it was a free state. It is said that she looked at her hands to confirm that she was the same person. She was happier and she said that she viewed the state as being a heaven where the sun appeared like a precious gold.

Instead of remaining in Pennsylvania, she made it her personal mission to secure the future of her family from slavery and forced labor through the Underground Railroad. In 1850, news reached her of the human trafficking that her children and niece, Kessiah, were subjected to. This was in the moment of December. Kessiah’s husband, Bowley John made a bid to sell her wife Kessiah in Baltimore (Adler et al. 106). Bowley was able to bid because he was a free black man. After this, Harriet was able to guide her entire family through the Underground Railroad to safety in Philadelphia. This was only the first trip and she later led many other slaves to safety through the same route. For this reason, she was nicknamed “Moses” to portray her guidance. She used great efforts to save her children from the situation besides making other 60 slaves free.

In the same year, the process of securing the freedom of the captives greatly changed. This was because of the passage of the fugitive law. The law made it possible to capture slaves who escaped to the north and bring them back to slaves (Clinton 87). Regardless of the personal principles of officers enforcing law, they were mandated to hold captive any escaped slaves. In such a way, Harriet Tubman redirected the Underground Railroad to Canada. At the time, Canada’s law barred slavery categorically. In December 1851, Harriet was able to journey with 11 fugitives to the north. There is historical evidence that suggests that Harriet stopped at the home of Frederick Douglas who was a former slave and abolitionist.

Moreover, in the year 1858, Harriet met with John Brown in April. At this time, John Brown supported the use of force to abolish slavery and save the people from oppression. Harriet tolerated the actions of John Brown and from time to time advocated for his ideas to end slavery through force. Harriet Tubman claimed that she had seen a vision of John Brown long before they met. She helped Brown persuade slaves to join a movement for an attack of slave camps in Harpers Ferry (Adler et al. 45). John Brown was later executed and Tubman praised his actions and named him a martyr. During the civil war, Harriet Tubman acted as a nurse and cook. In her continuous help in the war, she later became a spy and an armed scout. She later received honor as an American woman who led an armed raid for the first instance. She guided an expedition to raid Combahee and released over 700 people who were held as captives in South Carolina.

In early 1859, Harriet bought a land in New York from William Seward. In this small piece of land, Tubman tracked the war and tended to her family. Moreover, the land acted as a haven for anyone who took up residences. Even though Harriet was famous and had a good reputation, she was never financially stable (Malaspina 112). She depended on support from her friends and supporters. One of her supporters wrote Harriet’s biography and little money that was gotten from it was taken to Harriet Tubman and her family. Despite her economic problems, Harriet continued to freely give to the society. Later in 1908, a home for the aged was opened in her honor. As Harriet continued aging, the injuries she faced became more severe and the seizure frequency increased. Her age made her health greatly deteriorate. In the Boston Massachusetts Hospital, Harriet was treated by several surgeries in the brain to relieve the pains. After release from hospital, Harriet died on March 10th 1913, surrounded by her friends and family. Her cause of death was pneumonia and became buried with honor from the military at Fort Hill.


In summary, Harriet has become one of the most famous American icons over the years. Her legacy continues to inspire and motivate many more generations to come. Her contributions to civil rights and an end to slavery in America are a clear indication of her determination and bravery for which she fought for (Malaspina 209). Moreover, very many schools have been named in her honor and later in 1978; a movie named “A woman called Moses” was created to describe life and career. In a nutshell, Harriet Tubman is an everlasting motivation for the need for better lives in the United States of America.

Works Cited

Adler, David A, Samuel Byrd, Gail Nelson, and Chris Kubie. A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman. Pine Plains, N.Y.: Live Oak Media, 2005. Sound recording.

Clinton, Catherine. "Harriet Tubman: the Road to Freedom." (2005).

Malaspina, Ann. Harriet Tubman. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 2009. Internet resource.

October 07, 2021

Sociology History


Historical Figures

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