Harriet Tubman Essay

Submitted By mckinleycarlisle
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Pages: 7

Freedom Fighter
Harriet Tubman

Most commonly known for her role in the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman was more than just a “conductor”, she was a freedom fighter. Not only did Tubman manage to escape from slavery herself, she also helped others escape. Harriet Tubman was a woman of great strength, discipline, and aptitude. Her perseverance and dedication to the abolitionist movement and Underground Railroad gained her the respect of not only the black community but also Northern abolitionists and even the broader public. Tubman did not stop at the Underground Railroad, she also served in the Civil War as a spy, scout, and nurse. After the Civil War, Tubman advocated for and aided the elderly and newly freed African Americans. She never stopped putting people’s lives selflessly ahead of her own. Harriet Tubman’s personal experiences with slavery paired with her strength and determination made her a very important asset to both the abolition of slavery and the underground railroad movement. Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in 1822. At age 5, Tubman was forced to work for numerous families while being separated from her own family. At age 15, Tubman suffered a head injury after being hit in the head with a lead brick by her master. She suffered from the effects of the head injury for the rest of her life, with what today would be diagnosed as temporal lobe epilepsy (Horton, 8). Even with a very debilitating head injury, Tubman never let it get in the way of her goals and numerous risky journeys. She continued to work and grow up as a slave until she managed to escaped in 1849. Having been very close to her family and their family history, Tubman decided to risk her life to help bring her parents and siblings to freedom starting in 1857. It was Tubman’s difficult youth and upbringing which lit the flame inside her that inspired her to fight for freedom for not only herself but for others like her. Contrary to popular belief, Harriet Tubman was not the founder of the Underground Railroad. She become associated with it after it had already been established for over 50 years. The Underground Railroad was a secret network of safe routes and houses which led far up North and into Canada. Tubman’s involvement with the Underground Railroad has made her one of the most important woman in United States history (Horton, 1). Being involved with the Underground Railroad was very dangerous, but that never stopped Tubman from helping slaves reach free soil. She soon became known as Moses to the black community and Northern abolitionists. One of the most influential people Harriet Tubman started networking with was Fredrick Douglass, who like her, was also a runaway slave who had managed to recreate his life as a free man. The close knit network of black and white allies were the underlying reason for the Underground Railroads success. Without the support from antislavery activists, friends, and allies, Harriet Tubman would have never been able to provide an option of escape to the slaves who so desperately wanted freedom. The Underground Railroad became even more dangerous when the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was enacted. It required that all escaped slaves were captured must be returned to their masters. If anyone aided or prevented the return of a slave, they would be subjected to a fine and imprisonment (Horton, Doc. 3, pg. 108). However, this did not bring the Underground Railroad to a halt, but rather just made it even more evident that getting caught was not an option. William Still, chair of the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee was one of Tubman’s most important connections. Still raved about Tubman’s success and documented that, “Harriet was supreme, and her followers generally had full faith in her, and would back up any word she might utter” (Horton, Doc. 9, pg. 121). Tubman was very stern when it came to escaping slavery. She made it very clear that no one was allowed to turn back because it would put