Who was Harriet Tubman?
Harriet was a slave, that meant she had to work without payment. Black people back then were treated terribly. They lived in tiny shacks with no windows, and slept on the floor or in boxes full of hay. If slaves did not do what their masters say, they would whip you; and if that didn’t get you behaving, they’d do worse. If you were enslaved that meant you were no different from a piece of furniture or an animal. Because of this, slaves could be sold to different owners, and would not have any say.
Families were torn apart by the slave trade...including Harriet’s. Harriet’s owner sold her two sisters to another plantation. This horrified her mother who was powerless to stop it, but the next time somebody came, her mom was ready. When she found out her master was going to sell Harriet’s younger brother, she asked other slaves to hide her brother in the woods for almost a month. They found him eventually, but Harriet's mom did not give up. She threatened the men saying that she would punch the first white man in the head that came in her house. She must have been convincing because they did not sell Harriet's brother.
One day Harriet was running errands at a store when she saw a slave trying to escape. The slave’s master picked up a heavy piece of metal and swung it at the slave, but missed and hit Harriet instead on the head. It was an injury that changed her life.
One night, Harriet overheard a story about a slave who escaped to the north using the north star to guide him. In the north slavery was illegal. Not long after that her owner said he was going to sell her. She decided then to use this opportunity to escape. At first she wanted to escape with two other slaves but they got scared and turned back. So Harriet had to go all by herself, she followed the north star traveling by night. White and black people friendly to the cause for freedom helped Harriet find places to sleep and food to eat. Eventually she made it to Maryland, a free state, where she found a normal job and slept in a normal home.
One day Harriet heard that her niece was going to be sold. There was only one thing to do. She went back and helped her niece and her family escape. Not long after she rescued her younger brother and two other men, then she made another rescue trip … and another … and another.
Harriet didn’t know it at the time, but she helped shape the path that would become the underground railroad. The path was not underground, and it was not a railroad. Slaves gave it this name to keep its true nature a secret from their masters. People fighting the slave trade connected the underground railroad through a series of safe houses. These heroes helped bring many slaves to freedom, often risking their own lives.
When Harriet got old she let poor people into her house because they had no other place to go. Today we honor Harriet for her caring and support for other people. She rescued 70 people in total.
By Aila McPhail