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Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad Essay

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Updated: Jul 3rd, 2022

A slave was a property recognized by law in the United States. The enslaved were deprived of the rights that free citizens were enjoying. Harriet Tubman was born to a slave family between 1820 and 1825; she was the daughter of Benjamin Ross and Harriet Green (“Early Life: Harriet Tubman”). Harriet and her siblings lived in Dorchester County, Maryland. Anthony Thompson owned Benjamin Ross, who was skilled in wood. Benjamin’s responsibility was to manage other slaves’ cut and log timber for the growing shipbuilding industry in Maryland. Harriet Green was a slave to the Borders family; her job was to cook (“Early Life: Harriet Tubman”). Harriet Tubman had eight siblings, but due to the financial struggles in 1825, they were separated and sold in the slavery market.

Araminta Ross, Harriet Tubman’s actual name, had a rough childhood. When she was five years, she was hired by Miss Susan as a housemaid (“Early Life: Harriet Tubman”). Her responsibility was to care for a baby and ensure it never cried. Harriet Tubman was brutally punished if it cried; scary scars around her neck region were evidence of her master’s brutality her entire life. Harriet was unfit for the job and was sent back home. She was then hired to gather muskrat traps from swampy areas (“Early Life: Harriet Tubman”). She contracted the disease and was extremely weak; she could not work. After recovering from her sickness, Harriet started working on Bordess plantation since she could no longer be hired elsewhere.

Harriet’s zeal to fight against slavery started at a tender age. In her errands at the grocery, she encountered a slave running for freedom. She stood in the way of the slave’s oppressor to give the escaping slave time to flee. As a result, she got hit on the head with a metal aimed at the slave and broke her skull (“Harriet Tubman.”). This injury had an immense effect on her health that the Bordess family wanted to sell her, but they could not find a buyer. Harriet was married to John Tubman; her marriage was stressful. Besides, she could not bear to see her brothers sold to other slave masters; these events triggered her motive to escape (Kettler).

The truths of slavery were brutal; nonetheless, the decision to flee had severe consequences if caught. In 1849, Harriet and her brothers were set to escape, but her brothers, cowardly, did not proceed as planned (“Harriet Tubman.”). She found her way to Pennsylvania with the help of the Underground Railroad. Her freedom alone was not satisfying; Tubman yearned for her family and friends’ freedom (“Harriet Tubman.”). At this time, Tubman had become very religious, and she believed God could guide her way to saving her people from slavery.

The Underground Railroad was dynamic with loose network personnel. It took courage to pursue such a mission to the South. Harriet was a conductor of her kind; in her trips, she maneuvered through all obstacles to give her people freedom. A strategy was significant in any escape, and Harriet found the means to make her plans work (“Harriet Tubman.”). Harriet planned her escape mission during the winter and Saturday evenings. She relied on help from a network of personnel and knew the Maryland landscape well (“Harriet Tubman.”). She used secret codes and pathways to keep her routes and plans unidentifiable.

Slaves were fleeing into Free states; hence opposition crept in. The fugitive slave act of 1850 imposed strict measures on any runaway slave and those who helped slaves escape (Kettler). Harriet, now famous to the slaves as ‘Moses,’ was wanted. She helped slaves to Canada while disguising herself as a man (“Harriet Tubman.”). In Canada, she learned of abolitionist John Brown’s efforts to fight slavery in the United States and joined the fight. The civil war of 1861 gave her new avenues to fight for her people (Kettler). Harriet was recruited as a fugitive slave and served as a nurse, cook, and laundress (“Harriet Tubman.”). She used her skills in herbal medicine to treat injured soldiers and fellow slaves.

Harriet Tubman became a crucial asset to the Union army; she used her network to source crucial information from the confederate army (“Harriet Tubman.”). In July 1865, she asked Seward to help her receive payment for her work during the war (Kettler). Her request for pay proved futile due to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. After the civil war, Harriet resettled in New York and was remarried to a former slave veteran Nelson Davis (“Harriet Tubman.”). Harriet Tubman’s philosophy of life was helping those in need. She supported humanitarian efforts by selling her farm by-products and joined groups that fought for women’s rights.

Harriet offered her land to The African Methodist Episcopal church that founded the Harriet Tubman Home (Kettler). Although she had a good reputation among her people, she struggled financially. As Tubman aged, the pain from her head injury during her teenage years became more unbearable (“Harriet Tubman.”). Harriet had brain surgery that helped to relieve the pain. Harriet Tubman succumbed to pneumonia in 1913 in the presence of her family and friends.

Works Cited

“Early Life: Harriet Tubman.” Harriet Tubman, 2021. Web.

History. 2021. Web.

Kettler, Sara. “Harriet Tubman: Timeline of Her Life, Underground Rail Service and Activism.” Biography. 2020. Web.

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