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  > Harriet Tubman - Organizer of the Underground Railroad - Born on the Lower Eastern Shore

picture of Harriet Tubman organizer of the Underground Railroad

 Harriet Tubman
1820 - 1913
 
     

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Harriet Tubman
born a slave in Bucktown, Maryland
Dorchester County


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 Railroad."

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."  

 

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