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It’s Harriet Tubman Day – March 10th!

Commemoration - AMS FulfillmentFebruary was Black History Month, and we did our best to cover some important events in Black History. Now in March we’re covering Women’s History, as this too is a story of growth and evolution in the culture. With these two commemorations in mind, on March 10th we have a Day of both Black and Women’s history – Harriet Tubman Day!!

Most of us are aware of the amazing Harriet Tubman – an absolute hero of the Underground Railroad. She escaped from slavery, which was heroic in itself, and once she had escaped, she returned to assist others. Harriett Tubman also played a role as a spy in the Civil War, and we will cover that as well. It’s hard to imagine a more courageous woman in American history than Harriet Tubman, so let’s begin with a quote from National Today [LINK]:

“Harriet Tubman Day was enacted as a national holiday in 1990 by the United States Congress as a way to celebrate the heroic work of Tubman towards the abolishment of slavery and freedom of slaves. The holiday was adopted into law by the U.S. Senate on March 6, 1990, passed through the House of Representatives the next day, and proclaimed as a holiday by then-president, George Bush, on March 9 in the same year.”

Harriet Tubman’s date of birth is not known, but we do know it was in the month of March, between 1820 and 1822. Her father was Benjamin Ross and Harriet Green was her mother. Originally named Araminta Ross, she was born on a plantation in Dorchester County, Maryland. She changed her own first name to Harriet, after her mother, and she married John Tubman, taking her husband’s name. Her story tells us that she ran away often as an adolescent, she fought back, and wore layers of clothing to protect herself from beatings. She escaped slavery in 1849. Let’s learn about it.


The Life of Harriet Tubman

There is a story of her life published at [LINK]. This life story is inspiring, and we encourage readers to enjoy it in full. The story contains so many events we can’t cover in this writing, but we will share a few informative paragraphs with readers.

“In 1828 at the age of six, Brodess (the slavemaster) rented out Tubman at his whim to provide childcare for nearby overseers. Compensation for her work would go to Brodess and time periods for how long she would be rented out would vary. This work separated her from her mother and siblings for extended periods of time. Tubman’s life would change forever at the age of 13. In 1835, while she was running errands at a local store, she witnessed another enslaved person’s attempted escape. She refused to assist the freedom seeker’s enslaver in capturing the fugitive. As the enslaver became desperate in their attempt to recapture the freedom seeker, he threw a two pound weight. Rather than hitting the intended target, he struck Tubman in the back of the head and fractured her skull.”

Tubman survived the injury and was left with a disability known as narcolepsy; a form of seizure which causes sleep. Apparently when these sleeping spells came, visions of freedom also came to her. The story tells us that she negotiated with her enslaver to be hired out with her pay going to him. Her new tasks took her away from the plantation and she was able to become familiar with the geography.

“In an unexpected turn of events, one assignment required her to work alongside her father in the timber fields. Not only did this allow her to spend time with him despite years of separation, but also to work alongside Black sailors. As regular travelers along the East Coast, these men were well connected. They shared their knowledge of the surrounding areas with Tubman and assisted her in tapping into a network of those also seeking liberation. It was around this time that she met her future husband, freedman John Tubman. The couple married in 1844 when Tubman was 22 years old.

Tubman realized that her enslaver was in financial difficulty, and he was going to sell her brothers and possibly herself. At this point she set her sights on escaping to Philadelphia. With the help of abolitionists, she did escape. She had a strong desire to rescue her brothers and so decided to return for them in 1850. After a successful first trip in which she brought both family and friends to freedom, she became a Conductor on the Underground Railroad. She succeeded in her second journey and on her third in 1851. Then things changed. The Fugitive Slave Act was passed, and it required that escapees be returned to the ‘owners’, so freedom seekers now had to flee to Canada.

“Tubman conducted eleven trips from Maryland to St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada between 1850 and 1860. All of these journeys–19 in total– over the years made Tubman a hero. While widely celebrated within her own community, Tubman was infamous among enslavers. Many called for her capture with bounties upwards of $40,000, which would be approximately $1,573,056.41 in today’s dollars. Between 1850 to 1860, Tubman brought approximately 70 individuals (including her parents, Rit and Ben) to freedom. Tubman spoke proudly of her accomplishments and famously stated, ‘I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.’” 


Harriet the Union Spy 

Now we will briefly cover her heroism during the Civil War. Tubman enlisted in the Union army as a nurse. In 1863 she took on the role of Scout and organized a group of spies, enlisting enslaved people to help her.

“Tubman helped Colonel James Montgomery coordinate the Combahee River Raid in South Carolina, which aimed to “harass whites and rescue freed slaves.” The raid was wildly successful with Montgomery’s troops burning down many plantations and freeing approximately 750 enslaved people. With their newfound freedom, many of the formerly enslaved men opted to join the Union’s fight against the Confederacy. To date, Tubman is recognized as the first woman in US history to both plan and lead a military raid. In June 2021, the Army inducted her into the Military Intelligence Corps.” 

The story goes on to talk about her years in support of women’s suffrage, and her collaboration with the AME Zion Church in making a Home for the Aged. Harriet Tubman’s life was a dedicated one, in service every step of the way. We are very pleased to honor her on Harriet Tubman Day, March 10th and we encourage readers to enjoy the full story of this amazing woman. [LINK]

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