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.
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
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
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
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
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.