"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."--Harriet Tubman
Her birth name was Armanita Greene but she was called by her mother's name, Harriet, throughout her life. She was born into slavery on a Dorchester County, Maryland plantation to Benjamin Ross and Harriet Greene in or about the year 1820. Harriet was forced to work long hours at the age of five, and as a small child, she was often hired out to work for other slave owners...mainly for household duties. She was often beaten and whipped, and as she grew older, she was sent out into the fields with the other slaves. When she was only 13, she was accidentally hit in the head by a rock that had thrown at someone else. She was near death for some time and for the rest of her life she suffered from severe headaches and blackouts.
In 1844, Harriet married John Tubman, who was a free man and was allowed to sleep in his cabin. Harriet would frequently talk to John about freedom but he was pretty much contented with what he had. To him, the idea of escape was far too risky especially since he felt they already had it well. Harriet was unhappy in marriage found herself growing impatient with her husband because they didn't seem to have anything in common. He was content; she wanted freedom. Then one night 1849, Harriet made a daring move. Without telling a soul, she decided to escape from the plantation. She just couldn't take it any longer.
The Quakers were opposed to slavery, and Harriet found safety and shelter in the home of a Quaker woman who had connections with the Underground Railroad. This was a secret system of safe houses that aided slaves in their attempts to reach the North. Free blacks and sympathetic whites all joined in to help the runaway slaves find food, shelter, and transportation. Harriet made most of her journey was during the night when it was easier to hide from slave hunters who were out and about trying to recapture any escaped slaves. The North Star was her guide it offered her hope and pointed her in the direction of freedom.
Finally, Harriet crossed the state line and entered into Pennsylvania. She had made it; she had escaped into freedom.
As soon as she arrived in Philadelphia, Harriet began to work in the hoes of earning enough money to bring her family to freedom in the North. Soon thereafter, she met joined William Still, an abolitionist who was connected with the Underground Railroad. Harriet soon joined the abolitionists and volunteered to become a conductor for the railroad. It has been said that between 1850 and 1860, Harriet had saved enough money to make 19 trips into the South where she freed about 300 slaves.
As stories of her bravery grew, they began to call her "Moses," after the Biblical Moses who led the slaves out of Egypt. She was a hero to slaves but this popularity also placed her in danger. After years of eluding slave hunters, white slave owners posted a reward of $40,000 for 'his' capture. Slave owners just could not believe that a woman was capable of this daring. Fortunately, with the help of her allies and well planned routes, Tubman was never captured and the reward was never collected.
"I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can't say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger."
During the Civil War, Harriet worked as a nurse and scout for the North, and although shewas honored more than once by the Union Army, she did not receive a pension for years. In her later years, she continued to serve others by establishing a home for orphans and the elderly in Auburn, New York. It is there that she died of pneumonia, in poverty, in 1913. The Harriet Tubman Home for Aged and Indigent Colored People in Auburn is now a museum.