Baker’s Dozen – Harriet Tubman

In honor of Black History Month and the memories I shared earlier this week with regard to reading about Harriet Tubman as a young girl, I thought it would be appropriate to share some fun facts about her.

To think that over 100 years ago, a poor, uneducated woman who, as a slave, was considered a piece of property and not even human, accomplished so many things is truly an inspiration to everyone.  I have only included highlights here, but if you want to read about a truly fascinating person, go pick up a book about Harriet.









Harriet Tubman, picture from Wikipedia

1)  Harriet Tubman was born in the early 1820s in Maryland.  She was the daughter of slaves, and the only ancestor known to her was a grandmother who was brought over to American on a slave ship.  The exact date of her birth is unknown because slave births were not recorded.  Her birth name was Araminta Ross, and she was the 11th child born to her parents.

2)  Harriet started working at 5 years old when she was loaned out to work for another family.  She suffered beatings at the hands of her owners and at an early age suffered a head wound that caused her to have seizures, headaches, and hallucinations, which she attributed to visions from God, her entire life.  As a slave, she never received any formal schooling or education.

3)  In her mid-20s, Harriet married John Tubman who was a freeman.  Unfortunately, he did not support her desire to become free and even threatened to turn her in if she ran away.  He eventually took another wife, and Harriet Tubman remarried.  She never had any children.

4)  In 1849, Harriet escaped to Pennsylvania, but soon returned to Maryland to help family members and others escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad.  It is estimated that she may have helped over 300 people escape to freedom in the North and Canada.

5)  There was a rather large bounty for the capture of Harriet Tubman with figures ranging from $10,000 to $40,000 a veritable fortune in those days.

6)  Harriet was not only an outspoken speaker for the abolition of slavery but also for women’s rights and the suffragist movement.

7)  During the Civil War, Harriet worked as a cook, laundress, armed scout, a nurse, and a spy for the Union Army often serving behind Confederate lines.

8)  During the Civil War, Harriet helped to bring an additional 700 to 800 slaves to freedom.

9)  In spite of her service to the army, Harriet was denied a military pension.  She was only able to collect on the basis of her second husband’s military service.

10)  Harriet was acquainted with other abolitionists of her day including Frederick Douglas and John Brown as well as other women suffragists including Susan B. Anthony and Emily Howland.

11)  In her later life, Harriet helped to organize the AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church and to set up a home for indigent aged African Americans.

12)  Harriet died on March 10, 1913, of pneumonia.  She was in her 90s.

13)  Harriet was widely known and respected during her life, but is an icon of American History.  She was buried with military honors and remains an inspiration to all who struggle for equality and civil rights.

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