born a slave in Bucktown, Maryland
Organized the Underground Railroad and led over 300 slaves to freedom in
a ten year span.
There are few Americans who haven't heard the
name "Harriet Tubman." She is undoubtedly, one of the most
famous American heroes, recognized for bravery, courage and
determination. Her great claim to fame was that she led numerous
enslaved African Americans to freedom through the "Underground
She was born a slave on the Brodas Plantation in
Bucktown, Maryland, a
small hamlet on Maryland's Lower Eastern Shore in Dorchester County (near
Cambridge). Her name at birth was not Harriet - but "Arimenta",
and her surname at birth was Ross.
In 1844 she married John Tubman - who was a free man. Harriet
worked by day as a slave on the plantation, but was allowed to stay in
John's cabin at night. At this time, slave kidnapping - especially
on the Eastern Shore - was in full swing. Kidnappers would abduct
free blacks and escaped slaves and sell them to slave traders who would
carry their prey into the deep south to be sold on the auction
block. This threat was very real to Harriet. This fear hit
close to home in 1849 when the owner of the Brodas Plantation died and
many of the slaves were scheduled to be sold. It was at this time
that Harriet planned her escape.
Her husband had told her previously, that if she attempted to escape,
he would turn her in. Harriet told no one of her plans except her
sister. She took on the alias "Harriet Tubman" (Harriet
was her mother's name) when she fled in 1849, making a 90 mile trip on
foot through swamp, forest and field to arrive at the Mason Dixon
Line. She settled in Philadelphia and worked as a dishwasher while
she mentally made plans to rescue her family from slavery.
Over the next several years, Harriet rescued her sister's family, her
brothers and her parents. She made an attempt to rescue her husband,
but he had remarried and was not interested in escape. the rescues
were made by what is now referred to as "the Underground
Railroad" - a secret network of safe-houses that offered Harriet and
her charges safety along the dangerous path to freedom between the north
and south. In the course of ten years,
Harriet made 19 trips on the Underground Railroad and freed more than 300
slaves. She is referred to as "The Moses of her people."