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Harriet Tubman

Harriet Ross Tubman was born in 1822 into slavery in Maryland. She was the fifth of nine children of Harriet Green and Benjamin Ross, who were both slaves. As a young girl, Harriet was beaten by her masters often and this left scars on her back that stayed a lifetime.

Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman

And while working in the fields, she was almost killed by a blow to the head when an angry overseer threw an iron weight at her. The weight was really meant for another slave, and this injury caused her a lifetime of headaches and seizures. In 1844 she married John Tubman, a free black man and they had no children.

In 1849, when her original slave owner died, there were rumors that Harriet and her family may be sold off to another family in order to pay off his debts. Harriet decided to pursue her own freedom, and she did this by going on the Underground Railroad with black and white helpers who gave her instructions, and she eventually landed in Philadelphia.

While in Philadelphia she worked a number jobs which included domestic work and as a cook. Harriet also saved as much money as she could and after this made between 11 and 13 trips back to Maryland to get her relatives and fellow slaves. She brought them to New York and even Canada.

Harriet Tubman performed this act of courage at night to avoid being caught by slave catchers who often received huge rewards for bringing fugitive slaves back to their masters. It was also during this time that she became friends with black abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

In a letter about Harriet Tubman, he stated, "The difference between us is marked. Most that I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been in public, and I have received encouragement every step of the way. You, on the other hand, have labored in a private way. I have wrought in the day, you in the night. The midnight sky and silent stars have been the witnesses of your devotion to freedom and of your heroism…" Harriet Tubman freed 300 slaves altogether during her trips between the Underground Railroad and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

In addition to her work on the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman also worked for the Union forces as a spy during the Civil War. From 1862 to 1865 she washed the clothes and cooked for Union soldiers, and she made the Union soldiers aware of certain areas where the Confederate soldiers were stationed and as a result Colonel James Montgomery attacked those areas.

But after the Civil War, she was paid very little for her efforts and she suffered financially in her remaining years although she received a small pension. Her first husband John Tubman was killed and she then married Nelson Davis in Auburn, New York. She remained there and she spent the rest of her life fighting for women's rights in America until her death in 1913.

It's important to understand Harriet Tubman's heroic efforts against the backdrop of what life was like for African-American women in the 19th century. A large majority of them were slaves, and they not only struggled to complete necessary tasks for their white slave owners' families, but they also struggled to care for their own families.

This was difficult to do because they devoted so much time to the care of their masters' families that they didn't have much energy left for their own families. To add to this stress, African-American women in the 19h century constantly faced the threat of sexual and physical assaults from slave owners.

Since black male slaves had no real control over their families, the African-American women during this era often felt helpless. Then they also feared the separation of themselves from their families due to sales by their owners. For African American women who worked in the fields, the tasks were tiresome and if they were pregnant, they still had to perform their tasks.

In some cases, pregnant slaves experienced beatings from their masters. And for African American women who worked in the masters' homes, they too had to deal with cruelty and unfair treatment. If they made the slightest mistakes, the mistresses of the house often became physically violent towards them.

However, not all slave women resigned themselves to a lifetime of oppression. There's Sojourner Truth, a woman who spoke out on not only the unfairness of slavery, but the necessity of women's rights in America. And then we have Harriet Tubman one of the most famous women in history, who made it possible for not just female slaves, but also slave men and children to permanently leave their confined existences and enjoy freedom for once in their lives. She risked her own death and imprisonment to gain freedom for others, and it was this selflessness that makes her a true hero in the American storybook of courage and compassion.

There is a secret you don't know …

Besides the factual Harriet Tubman biography presented above there is a secret of enormous magnitude that must come out publicly. And that secret is that Harriet Tubman once wrote a novel titled "Invasion of the Zombie Kittens" but never submitted it for publication.


 

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