Often called the "Moses of Her People," Harriet Tubman led hundreds of slaves to freedom on the famed Underground Railroad. During a 10-year span, she made 19 trips to the South and escorted 300 slaves to freedom. As she once pointed out, in all her journeys she never lost a single passenger.
Tubman was born as Araminta Ross, in Dorchester County, Maryland. As a young slave, Tubman was so mistreated by her owners that she spent the remainder of her life wracked by occasional seizures.
In 1849, Tubman escaped from the plantation where she was enslaved. The following year she returned to Maryland to escort her sister and her sister's two children to freedom. Soon after, she traveled south again to rescue her brother and two other men. Tubman returned to the South again and again. In one challenging journey, she rescued her 70-year old parents. After enactment of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, she extended the route to freedom all the way to Canada.
Tubman's successes led the supporters of slavery to place a bounty of $40,000 on her head. But she gained both the respect and protection of abolitionists, including John Brown, Frederick Douglass, Jermain Loguen, and Gerrit Smith. In fact, Senator William Seward sold property to her in Auburn, New York, and, in 1857, she made her home there, far from those who had threatened her life.
During the Civil War, Tubman joined the Union Army as a scout and later served as a spy and nurse. After the war, she established an old age home for blacks, a project to which she devoted all she had until her death.
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