Harriet Tubman Term Paper

This essay has a total of 1656 words and 7 pages.


Harriet Tubman






Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman was a poor slave girl who ran away from her plantation at the age of 28.
Throughout the course of her life many people and many things challenged her. Each
situation she was faced with tested either her mental or physical strength, usually both.
She persevered through all of her trials stronger and wiser, and was willing to always
help others through their own. Not one to instigate unless extremely necessary, Harriet
was known for her quick thinking and her reactions to each ordeal she was faced with. She
responded to them with a sharp mind, and strong faith in deliverance through the Lord.

Harriet Tubman was born under the name of Araminta Ross in either 1820 or 1821 on a
plantation in Dorchester County, Maryland. Records were not kept of slave births so her
birth date is a mystery. She was one of eleven children born to slaves Harriet Green and
Benjamin Ross. Araminta was put to work at the age of five and served as a maid and
children’s nurse before becoming a field hand when she was 11. Approximately one
year after she began working in the fields she suffered a near-fatal blow to the head
while protecting a fellow slave from a white Overseer. The Overseer, attempting to stop a
would-be runaway, threw a 2-pound weight in his direction. Araminta tried to foil the
Overseers attempts to stop the runaway, consequently suffering the blow to her forehead.
A portion of her skull was pushed against her brain and she suffered blackouts for the
rest of her life as a result. This incident also left a dent in the middle of her
forehead and she was disabled for almost a year. As was customary of all plantations,
when Araminta turned 12 she started wearing a bright bandana around her head indicating
she was no longer a child. Araminta wore this bandanna like a badge – a sign of her
courage and the spirit that had brought her through times of trouble. She was also no
longer known by her “basket name”, Araminta. Now she would be called Harriet.
Yet she always insisted that the Lord addressed her by the name “Araminta.”

In 1844, Harriet received permission from her master to marry John Tubman, a free black
man. For the next five years Harriet lived in a state of semi-slavery: she remained
legally a slave, but her master allowed her to live with her husband. Since Harriet was
still a slave she knew there was a chance that she could be sold and her marriage split
apart. Harriet dreamed of traveling north. There, she would be free and not have to worry
about her marriage being split up by the slave trade. But John did not want her to go
north. He said he was fine where he was and that there was no reason for moving north.
He told her that if she ran off, he would tell her master. She did not believe him until
she saw his face and then she knew he meant it.

The death of her master in 1847, followed by the death of his young son and heir in 1849,
made Tubman’s status uncertain. Amid rumors that the family's slaves would be sold
to settle the estate, Tubman fled to the North and found freedom. But when there, in
Philadelphia, she grew terribly lonely. She worked for the year and saved her money,
determined to bring “her people” to freedom, as well. In 1850 Harriet helped
her first slaves escape: her sister and her sisters two children. That same year Harriet
was made an official “conductor” of the Underground Railroad. This meant that
she knew all the routes to free territory and she had to take an oath of silence so the
secret of the Underground Railroad would be kept secret. In 1851 she rescued her brother
James and other friends. She also tried, on this trip, to get her husband John to come
with her, but he had remarried since she left and did not want to leave.

Tubman made eleven trips from Maryland to Canada from 1852-1857. During the ten years she
worked as a conductor Harriet managed to save 300 people, making 19 trips altogether. She
never lost a passenger on the way. Her career in the Railroad ended around December 1860,
and for her safety her friends took her to Canada.

Tubman returned to the U.S. from living in Canada in 1861. The Civil war had begun and
was enlisting all men as soldiers and any women who wanted to join as cooks and nurses.
Tubman enlisted into the Union army as a contraband nurse in a hospital in Hilton Head,
South Carolina. She treated her patients with medicine from roots and miraculously never
caught any of the deadly diseases the wounded soldiers would carry. Not only did she
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