Harriet Tubman was an American woman who was born a slave. Her real name was Araminta Ross. She was born in 1819 or 1820 in Dorchester County, Maryland. Her parents were both slaves. She had 9 brothers and sisters. When she was a child, she worked in the fields sometimes and as a baby nurse or maid in a house.
At age 5 'Minty' (Araminta's nickname) was made to take care of a baby for a woman known as Miss Susan. She had to rock the cradle to keep the baby quiet. If the baby cried, Minty would be whipped. She was sold out or rented to different families for many types of work. She missed her family a lot. Like most slaves, Minty did not have enough food or medical care. She was very sickly.
When she was 12, Harriet was made to work in the fields, a job she liked. One day while she was in a store, she saw an escaped slave. His master had just caught up with him. The slave ran out the door. Minty blocked the doorway to let the slave get a head start away from his master. The master picked up a big metal weight to throw at his slave, but it hit Minty instead. She suffered on the floor for days. For many years, she had sudden sleeping spells or seizures due to the brain damage. Later she had some surgery which helped her.
In 1844, Minty married a free black man named John Tubman. She changed her first name to Harriet which was her mother's name. In 1849, Harriet thought she was going to be sold so she escaped. She fled north to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where slavery wasn't allowed. Her husband didn't want to come with her.
The year after Harriet escaped from slavery, she went back to the South to free her sister. After this, she made many trips back and forth to lead slaves to the North. After a law was passed saying that a slave could be caught in the North and brought back to the South, Harriet had to move in secret.
Harriet became a part of what was known as the 'Underground Railroad.' Now she had to get the slaves farther north, all the way to Canada. To do this, she set up many houses and hiding places through the south and north where slaves could hide. Her friends helped to hide the slaves by day in secret rooms in their houses. At night, another friend would take the slaves by wagon or on foot to the next safe place. In this way, the slaves made their way to freedom in Canada. She could bring 3 brothers and her parents out of slavery through the Underground Railroad.
Harriet risked her life to speak out in public about trying to 'abolish' or get rid of slavery. A reward was offered to catch her, but no one harmed her.
During the Civil War in the United States, Harriet was a nurse and then a spy. She tried to get secrets from the southern or Confederate Army for the northern or the Union Army. She spent the money she earned to build a location where freed slave women could do wash for soldiers and earn money for food and other needs.
Harriet Tubman was an important woman in helping to get rid of slavery. On her gravestone are written these words, 'Servant of God, Well Done.'
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