About Harriet Tubman and Slavery
Slavery was legalized in America in 1776, and it lasted until 1865 when the Thirteenth Amendment was passed in 1865. An abolitionist is a person who is apart of the movement to end slavery. Harriet Tubman was one of the most famous abolitionists. She was known as the “Moses” of her people. Her work was part of an intricate system called the Underground Railroad organized by other abolitionists. Harriet has always been a fighter. She was born Araminta Ross in 1820, in Dorchester County, Maryland. Historians do not know her birth date because she was born a slave, and she never got a birth certificate. Her parents were Benjamin Ross and Harriet Green, and she was one of their eleven children. They lived on the plantation of Edward Brodas. It is believed that her parents were descendants of West African warrior people called the Ashanti. Araminta Ross changed her name to Harriet, sometime during her childhood. Harriet suffered immensely as a minor growing up in the system of slavery.
Since Brodas was experiencing financial struggles, he sold two of Harriet’s older sister to plantations, making a lasting impression on her. Harriet was to have a home base with her parents throughout their lives. When Harriet was five years old, Brodas began leasing her to neighboring families. She performed work like winding yarn, checking muskrat traps, housekeeping, splitting fence rails, loading timber, and nursing children. In about 1826, she was employed by a couple named Cook. Mrs. Cook was a weaver and planned to train Harriet as her assistant, but Harriet did not have the cleverness needed to do the task. Since she could not weave, she walked their trap lines until the day she was too sick to continue. Tubman returned home to the Brodas plantation, where she was nursed by her mother through the measles and a severe attack of bronchitis. After six weeks, Harriet was well enough to return to the Cooks. Mrs. Cook tried to teach Harriet how to weave, but she was still unable to accomplish her demands. Mrs. Cook declared Harriet stupid and returned her home to Brodas. Harriet inevitably antagonized her other bosses and was often sent home in between jobs, frequently sick and beaten. When she got home, she needed to be nursed by her mother.
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A violent incident occurred when Harriet was about 15 years old. She was caught in the middle of an argument between a supervisor and a man attempting to escape from slavery. The supervisor threw a two-pound, lead weight at the escaping man, but the weight hit Harriet instead. She was in a coma for weeks, and her forehead was dented and scarred for the rest of her life. It is believed that received she a fractured skull and a severe concussion. This incident caused her to have sleeping fits, and for the remainder of her life, she would abruptly fall asleep, multiple times a day. After the incident, Brodas decided to sell Harriet and two of her brothers, but he passed away before his plan was finished. After Brodess died, his child was too young to run the plantation. A manager, named Dr. Thompson, was hired to supervise. Thompson hired out Harriet and her father to John Stewart, a lumber merchant. John Stewart was so pleased with Harriet’s work that he allowed her to hire out her time by contracting for extra work and keeping part of her earnings. This was one of the few ways slaves could earn money of their own. First sentence. Harriet married a free black man named John Tubman around 1840. Even though she was married to a free man, Harriet was forced to remain a slave. John was very uninterested in his wife’s hopes to escape slavery. In 1849, she was threatened to be sold down into the Deep South.
That probability horrified her. Fearing that her husband would betray her, she left during the middle of the night. Throughout Harriet’s adolescence, she heard rumors of revolts and the Underground railroad. No one knew how it worked, but news spread about an unknHarriet Tubman wn route to freedom. When Harriet ran away, she was determined to find freedom. She made her way north, with help from leaders of the Underground Railroad, whose identities were left unknown. When she reached the boundary between the free and slave states, she stared at her hands trying “to see if I was the same person now I was free”. Tubman described her arrival in Philadelphia to her biographer and friend Sarah Bradford: “I was free, but there was no one to welcome me to freedom… I was a stranger in a strange land.” She also told Bradford of her resolve to free her family and to make a home for them in the North. Harriet lost her status of “free” and became a fugitive when the Fugitive State Law in 1850 as a part of the Missouri Compromise. The Fugitive State Law said that no black person was secure in the North because of the testimony of any white could send a black back to enslavement in the south, regardless of his or her previous status.
After this law was passed, Tubman discovered an organization that helped fugitive slaves called the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee. The committee was organized by James Miller McKim and William Still. William Still’s records of the escaping slaves who passed through the committee’s office was published in 1872, as The Underground Railroad which is now recognized as one of the most valuable records of this period of U.S. history. The Vigilance Committee helped Tubman plan out her first assisted escape. She helped her sister, Mary Ann, her sister’s husband, and their two children. In 1851 Harriet returned to her hometown of Dorchester Country and began the hazardous work of bringing slaves to freedom for the next decade. This became known as the Underground Railroad, and this impossible task is how Harriet earned the nickname Moses. Moses became a legend to slaves and a nuisance to slave owners. Af first slave owners assumed that Moses was a man. All the abolitionist were very careful ,and they kept her real name a secret. Some slaves were caught by the Fugitive State Law and were forced to return to the South. When they returned, they faced merciless punishment and certainty of being sold down South. Even after Harriet’s identity was known, she continued to lead people to freedom. She was also a master of disguise, wearing men’s clothing or adopting the hunched posture of an elderly woman.