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Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman is known for helping slaves escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad. She also volunteered to become a spy during the Civil War. Her efforts eventually helped the Union win the war. She was born in 1820 and in 1849 she escaped slavery. She would help others escape slavery a little at a time which included friends and family. The Underground Railroad was her secret network developed to help slaves become free. Because of this she is an important figure in women’s history and in African American history.

When Tubman was born her original name was Araminta Harriet Ross. Tubman came from a family that included enslaved parents. She had siblings that would soon be sold into slavery and to nearby plantations. She endured physical violence throughout her childhood and some led to permanent injuries. She later married a free black man little knew about. His name was John Tubman and when she married him she took his last name and chooses to have her first name as Harriet.

In 1849 she made her escape from slavery when her owner passed away. She helped others escape slavery and became an abolitionist for civil rights. During this time she fled to Philadelphia where she would develop a network known as the Underground Railroad. She used this to help her travel more than 90 miles into PA. She would later make a number of trips back and forth from Maryland to Pennsylvania to help her family and friends escape slavery. Around 1850 the Fugitive Slave Law was passed which made escaped slaves become eligible to be a slave again. The Underground Railroad was rerouted to Canada by Tubman since the country prohibits slavery. As Tubman continued to route escapees to the north, evidence suggests she may have met with Frederick Douglass, another abolitionist along with Job Brown.

She later worked with the union as a nurse and cook. She was an active force during the Civil War and guided more than 700 slaves to freedom. She acquired land in New York and lived her remaining years there until her health took a turn. She got married a second time before having health issues which were related to head injuries sustained from her childhood as a slave. A nursing home was named after her in Massachusetts. She lived here after undergoing brain surgery and passed away surrounded by family and friends in 1913. She was buried with military honors in home town of Auburn.

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