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Tubman, Harriet (ca. 1819–1913)

Albert Rolls


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Primarily remembered for her work as a conductor on the Underground Railroad (UR) , Harriet Tubman came to be known as “the Moses of her people” during her lifetime, yet her helping slaves escape to freedom represents only a portion of her accomplishments. Given the name Araminta Ross at her birth in Dorchester, Maryland, in about 1819, Tubman spent the first 29 years of her life as the property of Edward Brodas. Brodas often rented her to other families, including that of James Cook when she was around 5, but most often to that of Anthony Thompson, whose father, Brodas's stepfather, served as the master of Harriet's parents before Brodas came of age. At the age of 13, Tubman, who according to some accounts had already changed her name to Harriet, suffered a head injury at the hands of her overseer, who, while throwing an iron weight at another slave, hit her, leaving a permanent indent in her skull and inflicting her with a condition that caused her to fall asleep in the middle of daily activities. She nonetheless continued working for the families to which she was rented or on Brodas's plantation. In 1844 she married John Tubman. Five years later she escaped Thompson's plantation without her husband, who refused to run, and was taken to freedom on the UR. After gaining her freedom, Tubman met William Still, one of the organizers of the UR, at the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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