Harriet Tubman: An American Hero

And here we have the next article for you. This time we have an informative article written on Harriet Tubman for you. 📝

This woman should be known to all of you, but that’s no reason for us to not include her on our timeline. Tubman played a very important role as abolitionist in her time. Born into slavery, she witnessed social injustices on a daily basis. But she also noticed that it was possible to stand up and fight against the oppression she experienced. She is known for helping many other enslaved people to fight for their freedom while being a part of the Underground Railroad. With this she plays an important part in the history of America and the fight against the brutal system this land was built upon. To recognize her important role, Harriet Tubamn was debated to be on the $20 bill in 2016, but the Trump administration opposed the idea, it may be picked up by the Biden administration again. 💵💪🏿💪🏾💪🏽

Please read more about the life of Harriet Tubman, where she did way more than free people from slavery, to get to know one of the important people in the history of black Americans in the full article here.

Harriet Tubman| * 06-03-1822 | † 10-03-1913 | USA | Abolitionist, Civil Rights Activist

In 2016, an idea was brought to the table of the White House in the United States. The Treasury secretary proposed to have the image of Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill be replaced by an image of Harriet Tubman. The Trump administration opposed this idea and did not act on it. However, with Joe Biden as the new president, the project has been reopened. But who exactly is Harriet Tubman and why do people want her on the $20 dollar bill?

Harriet Tubman was born in 1822 as Araminta Ross. She was a black girl born into slavery, on a plantation in Maryland. Her whole family lived and worked on this plantation, and it was not uncommon for her brothers and sisters to be sold every now and then. When they got sold to another slave owner, Harriet would most likely never see them again. One day, one of her brothers was about to be sold off, but Harriet’s mother protested and demanded he stayed with them. Surprisingly, she succeeded, and Harriet felt inspired to stand up for other enslaved people like her mother did that day. 

Like most enslaved people, Harriet’s life on the plantation was not easy. She often got abused, leaving her with serious physical injuries. One time, she got hit on the head with a metal weight, which caused her to have seizures, excruciating headaches and hallucinations. Harriet herself interpreted the latter as visions from God, as she was very religious. Harriet could not read, but was very familiar with the Bible due to having heard passages from other people frequently. Harriet prayed every night for a better life for herself, her family and other enslaved people. 

Harriet is most famous for her success in leading enslaved people to freedom. She had always been determined to help her brothers and sisters, but her actual missions began in 1849. After being put up for sale by the slave owners but nobody willing to buy her, Harriet saw the opportunity to escape the plantation together with two of her brothers. It was a successful escape; the news did not reach the slave owners until two weeks after. However, Harriet’s brothers were anxious about the consequences of their escape, so they decided to return to their family on the plantation. Harriet followed them, but knew she was only going to stay a while. Indeed, not much later, she escaped again. Both of these escapes were made possible by the Underground Railroad, a network of safe houses where enslaved people on their way to freedom could stay. These houses belonged to activists, abolitionists and former enslaved people, and could be found throughout Canada, the United States and Mexico. It is estimated that the Underground Railroad has helped around 100.000 enslaved people escape their plantation. 

On her way to freedom, Harriet had to be careful about everything she did. She had to travel by night, so chances of someone sighting her were slim, and she should avoid talking to people she did not know, for they might betray her and turn her in. Harriet succeeded in doing all these things correctly, because she was never once caught. When she reached Philadelphia, her destination, she looked down at her hands to see if there was something different about her now that she was a free woman. She found that nothing changed, but still there were tears of joy running down her face. However, Harriet was not going to enjoy this freedom by herself. She was determined to help other enslaved people reach the freedom they deserve. So, in the following years, she frequently went back to her family’s plantation to help other enslaved people escape. She always picked these people up on Friday night, because the newspapers which would report the missing persons from the plantation would not be distributed until Monday, which gave them the whole weekend to travel in peace, so to say. 

In 1857, Harriet went on her final mission to her old plantation, where she was finally able to pick up her parents and bring them to Canada. Here, she reunited many members of her family after being separated for so long. After this last trip to the plantation, she continued fighting for the rights of minorities. For example, she was active in the fight for women’s right to vote and she played quite a big role in the Civil War, where she cared for wounded soldiers, was a member of staff in the camps and even guided soldiers around enemy mines in the waters. However, she never received any recognition or financial rewards for her help in the war, although her abolitionist comrades continuously expressed their respect for her, and claimed they would never forget about her. 

In her final years, Harriet opened the “Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged”, where people of older age could peacefully spend their remaining years. Harriet herself eventually transferred here as well, and she passed away from pneumonia in 1913, her last words being “I go to prepare a place for you”, reminiscent of what she had done herself for so many people.


Author: Sam van Stokkom
Image: H.B. Lindsley


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