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Harriet Tubman (aka Moses)

Path: Market African Americans African Americans Studies Harriet Tubman aka Moses


Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in 1819 or 1820 under the name {Araminta Ross}, as she led more and more individuals out of slavery (managing to rescue over 300 people), she became popularly known as "Moses" – an allusion to the prophet in the book of Exodus who led the Hebrews to freedom.



As Conductor on the UGRR (Underground Railroad), she worked at various activities to save so as to finance her activities.

After the war, Harriet Tubman returned to Auburn, New York and purchased Seward's seven-acre plot in 1873 with $1,200 donated by author Sarah Bradford from sale proceeds of her book. William and Frances Seward were friends of Harriet Tubman. Sarah Bradford is author of "The Moses of Her People," the biography of Harriet Tubman.

During the war, Harriet nursed the sick and wounded soldiers and blacks who the Union army helped to escape, back to health with medicine from roots - she, miraculously, never caught any of the deadly diseases the wounded soldiers would carry.

Although Harriet Tubman was originally denied payment for her wartime service, the government gave her a military pension of $20 per month in the 1890's. She built a wooden structure that served as her home for the aged and indigent in 1908, on property she purchased that was adjoining her home. Harriet Tubman worked there and was cared for hereself there in the period before her death (1913).



Modesty, Tubman's maternal grandmother, arrived in the US on a slave ship from Africa; no information is available about her other ancestors. As a child, Tubman was told that she was of Ashanti lineage (from what is now Ghana), though no evidence exists to confirm or deny this assertion. she was of purely African ancestry.



Her religious faith was another important resource as she ventured again and again into Maryland. The visions from her childhood head injury continued, and she saw them as divine premonitions. She spoke of "consulting with God", and trusted that He would keep her safe. Thomas Garrett once said of her: "I never met with any person of any color who had more confidence in the voice of God, as spoken direct to her soul."

Her faith in the divine also provided immediate assistance. She used spirituals as coded messages, warning fellow travelers of danger or to signal a clear path.

Immediately after reaching the city of Philadelphia, Tubman began thinking of her family. "I was a stranger in a strange land," she said later. "[M]y father, my mother, my brothers, and sisters, and friends were [in Maryland]. But I was free, and they should be free."



A severe head wound occurred at a time in her life when Tubman was becoming deeply religious. As an illiterate child, she had been told Bible stories by her mother. The particular variety of her early Christian belief remains unclear, but Tubman acquired a passionate faith in God. She rejected white interpretations of scripture urging slaves to be obedient, finding guidance in the Old Testament tales of deliverance. After her brain trauma, Tubman began experiencing visions and potent dreams, which she considered signs from the divine. This religious perspective instructed her throughout her life.



In or around 1844, she married a free black man named John Tubman. Tubman changed her name from Araminta to Harriet soon after her marriage, though the exact timing is unclear. Larson suggests this happened right after the wedding, and Clinton that it coincided with Tubman's plans to escape from slavery. She adopted her mother's name, possibly as part of a religious conversion, or possibly to honor a sister who had disappeared.



In 1849, Tubman became ill again, and her value as a slave was diminished as a result. Edward Brodess tried to sell her, but could not find a buyer. Angry at this effort (and the unjust hold he kept on her relatives), Tubman began to pray for her owner, asking God to make him change his ways.

"I prayed all night long for my master," she said later, "till the first of March; and all the time he was bringing people to look at me, and trying to sell me."

When it appeared as though the sale was being finalized, she switched tactics.

"I changed my prayer," she said. "First of March I began to pray, 'Oh Lord, if you ain't never going to change that man's heart, kill him, Lord, and take him out of the way."

A week later, Brodess died, and Tubman expressed regret for her earlier sentiments. Ironically, Brodess's death increased the likelihood that Tubman would be sold and the family would be broken apart. His widow Eliza began working to sell the family's slaves. Tubman refused to wait for the Brodess family to decide her fate, despite her husband's efforts to dissuade her.

"[T]here was one of two things I had a right to," she explained later, "liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other."



For eleven years Tubman returned again and again to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, rescuing some seventy slaves in thirteen expeditions, including her three other brothers, Henry, Ben, and Robert, their wives and some of their children. She also provided specific instructions for about fifty to sixty other fugitives who escaped to the north.

Her dangerous work required tremendous ingenuity; she usually worked during winter months, to minimize the likelihood that the group would be seen.

One admirer of Tubman said: "She always came in the winter, when the nights are long and dark, and people who have homes stay in them." Once she had made contact with escaping slaves, they left town on Saturday evenings, since newspapers would not print runaway notices until Monday morning.


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The African American Experiences is a collection of Black Studies to understand the Past, Present and Future of the People called African American!

"Wealth is to have your own Land, Language and Culture! Where is the Land of the African American? What is the Language? And, Where is the Culture of the people?"



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