Harriet Ross Tubman

(1822 - 1913)

Photograph of Harriet Tubman, Library of Congress
Harriet Ross Tubman, was born a slave on a plantation in Dorchester County, Maryland, in 1822.  She escaped to freedom when she was twenty-five, but returned to Maryland to establish an "underground railroad" where she conducted over 300 slaves to freedom. During the Civil War, she served as a nurse and a spy for the Union.  Though she was a victim of many beatings and sustained a severe head injury while attempting to protect a fleeing slave, Tubman was not deterred from her destined course as the "Black Moses" of her people.  She is said to have rescued some 300 slaves, including her aging parents, from the slaveholding plantations they were escaping.  Her efforts were so successful that a $40,000 reward was issued for her capture.  Despite the risk of being captured, she continued to help runaway slaves.

Honors were not awarded quickly to this extraordinary woman.  However, in the last years of her life her selfless courage was recognized.  Harriet Tubman not only overcame the tyranny of slavery and survived but also was instrumental in the survival of her people.

People interested in learning more about Harriet Tubman's life can visit her home in Dorchester County, which is a historic landmark.

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 1985.

© Copyright Maryland State Archives, 2001