Harriet Tubman: Her History: Part 1


Taylor Sanford, Writer


Harriet Tubman was a former slave who escaped slavery then became a leading abolitionist. She helped hundreds of slaves feel freedom, by taking them through the Underground Railroad, taking them into the northern area of the country, first Philadelphia, then Canada. There is so much more to her story, so much more history than we were taught. 


Harriet’s Childhood

In 1819 or 1820, Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross. She was the daughter of Harriet and Benjamin Ross. When Harriet was 11 she started calling herself Harriet after her mother. She was born into slavery in the state of Maryland. She was raised under harsh conditions: she would sleep next to a small fire to stay warm during cold nights and during the winter. Physical abuse was normal for Harriet and her family. The effects of physical violence inflicted on her when she was younger was permanent. When she became 12 she started to suffer from seizures, and narcolepsy from a two pound weight being thrown at her head because she refused to help tie up a man who tried to escape. After being hit in the head with the two pound weight, she experienced intense vivid dream states that she thought were premonitions from God. These dreams and seizures led her to become devoutly religious.


Her First Marriage and Escape

In 1844, when she was 25, she married a man named John Tubman. There is not much known about John Tubman, other than he was free. Her husband prevented her from escaping because he knew that Harriet’s brothers, Ben and Henry, were about to be sold further south; this prevented Harriet from escaping. Harriet’s husband, John, had also threatened to sell her further south if she attempted to escape. 

In 1849 – 1850, Harriet left her husband and had escaped slavery. She escaped being sold to the south on her own, and went to two safe-houses for safety. She had traveled about 90 miles north to Pennsylvania. Once Harriet escaped, she arrived in Philadelphia, where she got a job, so she could save up her pay to help free slaves. Harriet wasn’t completely satisfied with her freedom; she wanted her friends and loved ones to be free with her. She made 19 trips from the south to the north using the route she was given from the Underground Railroad.

Part 2 coming up, soon