Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman is known for helping enslaved Black Americans escape to freedom. But she did so much more. She helped the Union army during the Civil War, She fought for voting rights for women, and she cared for the elderly.

Harriet Tubman was born on a farm in Dorchester County, Maryland around 1822. People born into slavery did not get birth certificates, so she never knew her birthday. When you are enslaved, you are forced to work at a young age. Harriet started working on the farm when she was about six years old. If there was no work for her on the farm where she was enslaved, she was rented out to work on other farms.

Harriet was held in slavery on the same farm as most of her family. One of her sisters was sold to a farm far away. When Harriet learned that she might be sold also, she ran away. Harriet had been told about the secret places and people that were part of the Underground Railroad. She used that information to make her way to freedom.

Harriet hid during the day and only travelled after dark. People who were part of the Underground Railroad helped her. Each person who helped her gave her the name of the next person to help her until she reached freedom.

After escaping from slavery Harriet worked and saved her money so she could help her family and others escape. She became a conductor on the Underground Railroad and spent ten years leading enslaved people to freedom.

During the Civil War Harriet worked with the Union Army as a nurse, cook, scout and spy. In 1863 she led Union soldiers on a raid of plantations along the Combahee River in Beaufort, South Carolina. During the raid seven hundred Black men, women and children were freed. Harriet was the first woman in the United States to lead a military operation.

After the war Harriet returned to her home in Auburn, New York where she got involved in the suffrage movement and fought for voting rights for women.

Harriet also cared for the elderly. In 1896 she purchased land near her home to create the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged.

Harriet stayed in Auburn for the remainder of her life. She died there in 1913.

Harriet was a great woman. People have celebrated her life by naming parks, roads, and museums after her. The United State Post Office has created two stamps to honor her.