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When many people think of Harriet Tubman they may think of a formerly enslaved person and someone who helped people on the Underground Railroad. While Harriet was both of those things, she was so much more. She was one of the bravest and fiercest people in our history. She endured beatings and a terrible wound to the head. She saw siblings carried away, only to never see them again. She made a daring escape to the North, only to return time and time again to help others escape. But, that wasn't enough. She helped the sick during the Civil War then went into the South to spy on the Confederacy. She led men in an attack on the South. But that wasn't enough. Even when the war was over Harriet tried to help the sick and poor. Harriet Tubman was a true American hero.
- Occupation: Civil Rights Leader
- Born: c. March 1822 (sometime between 1815 and 1825) in Dorchester County, Maryland,
- Died: March 10, 1913 in Auburn, New York, U.S.
- Best known for: Rescuing the enslaved from the South through the Underground Railroad
Harriet Tubman, 1885
Author: Horatio Seymour Squyer
Interesting Facts About Harriet Tubman
As a young enslaved girl, Harriet learned to wear lots of clothing in the morning as protection from when her mistress would beat her. Then she would take off the layers once she was outside working.
She was one of the first conductors to actually use the railroad as a means of transportation along the Underground Railroad. Sometimes she would get on a train heading south to evade capture as enslaved catchers would not think to search for escaped enslaved people on a train heading south.
When Harriet underwent brain surgery in the late 1890s, she refused anesthesia. Instead, she bit down on a bullet to fight off the pain.
Harriet's second husband, Nelson Davis, fought at the Battle of Olustee during the Civil War.
Historians believe that it is likely Harriet once hid eleven fugitives at the home of fellow escaped enslaved person and abolitionist Frederick Douglass during their journey to Canada.
Despite her massive achievements, Harriet was only five feet tall.
Her birth name was Araminta Ross. She went by the nickname "Minty."
In 1857, Harriet gave Underground Railroad instructions to 28 of the enslaved that managed to escape to the North together. These enslaved became known as the "Cambridge 28." This raid, together with a few other large raids, was referred to at the time as the "Stampede of Slaves" to the North by many newspapers.
Harriet personally led many of her relatives to freedom including her parents, five siblings (maybe more), and a niece.
Abolitionist Thomas Garrett was good friends with Tubman and helped to fund many of her missions.
Harriet suffered from narcolepsy caused from a blow to the head. She would sometimes fall asleep in the middle of a conversation and even during escapes.
She was smart and brave, but also extremely tough. One time while leading an escape she was stricken by an abscessed tooth. To stop the pain she knocked the tooth out with the butt of her revolver.
To keep babies quiet during escapes, she used laudanum and then hoped that the drug would not wear off before they arrived at the next safe house.
She was devoutly religious and credited much of her success to God, who she often prayed to for guidance during her missions.
It was announced in 2016 that Harriet Tubman would become the face on the front of the $20 bill replacing President Andrew Jackson (who be moved to the back).
Harriet Tubman Biography Contents
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- Overview and Interesting Facts
- Born into Slavery
- Early Life as an Enslaved Person
- Dreaming About Freedom
- The Escape!
- The Underground Railroad
- Freedom and the First Rescue
- The Conductor
- The Legend Grows
- Harper's Ferry and the Civil War Begins
- Life as a Spy
- Life After the War
- Later Life and Death
More Civil Rights Heroes:
Susan B. Anthony
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Booker T. Washington
Ida B. Wells
More women leaders: