I've often posted information on some amazing women who were ahead of their time. Here is another.
Tubman was born Araminta Ross, to slave parents who lived on plantations in Maryland. Little is known about her family background and ancestry, but her maternal grandmother came to the US on a slave ship from Africa (possibly from modern-day Ghana).
Even as a young child Harriet was responsible for looking after her younger siblings because her mother was too busy working as a cook. Harriet was also hired as a nursemaid to a “Miss Susan”. She was frequently whipped by her overseers – leading to scars which would last all her life. For periods of time, she was also sent out to work for a planter – checking muskrat traps – and later farming tasks, such as ploughing and moving logs.
On one occasion, Tubman was hit in the head by a stone thrown by a slave owner. The slave owner was aiming at another slave, but the stone hit Tubman in the back of her head – cracking her skull and leading to lifelong headaches, epileptic seizures and dreams or visions. Tubman later attributed her bushy unkempt hair for reducing the impact of the stone and saving her life.
In 1849, Tubman’s slave owner, Edward Brodress, died. This raised the likelihood Tubman would be sold, and the family split up. With her two brothers, Ben and Henry, she decided to escape from the large plantation in Caroline County where they lived and worked. The escape was successful, but after a few weeks, her brothers had misgivings because they wanted to return to their children; Tubman was forced to return with them.
However, soon after, Tubman escaped for the second time. With the help of the Underground Railroad, she took a 90-mile route northeast along the Choptank River towards Pennsylvania. The journey on foot could have taken a couple of weeks, with great care being needed to avoid slave catchers, who could gain a bounty for catching any escaped slaves. After reaching Pennsylvania, she expressed her tremendous joy.
In Philadelphia, Tubman took on odd jobs to earn some money, but she wanted to return to Maryland to rescue the rest of her family.
In 1858, she met the radical abolitionist John Brown, who advocated violence to promote the ending of slavery. Although Tubman never promoted violence herself, she was sympathetic to the aims of John Brown and assisted him in finding willing volunteers. Brown’s raid on Harper Ferry, Virginia failed and he was executed, but Tubman praised his courage in death for trying to fight the institution of slavery.
At the outbreak of the civil war, Tubman saw a Union victory as a way to advance the cause of abolition. She served as a nurse in Port Royal, treating soldiers suffering dysentery and small pox.
After the civil war, Tubman returned to Auburn where she continued to look after her family and other ex-slaves. She also remarried (Nelson Davis, 20 years her junior). They adopted a child Gertie.
Denied a pension, her financial situation was poor, but friends in the abolitionist movement helped raise funds. An authorised biography Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman was written by Sarah Hopkins Bradford. Over the next few years, Tubman often gave speeches on both slavery and women’s rights. She was an excellent storyteller who could capture the imagination of the audience.
After becoming increasingly frail, in 1913, she died of pneumonia, surrounded by friends and family.
Clancy's comment: Wow. I admire her brilliant quotes. Love ya work, Harriet.
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