Black History: Special Delivery!!
Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass are perhaps two of the most well-known African Americas of the Civil War time period. The two shared mutual respect and admiration for one another. Tubman and Douglass were both born enslaved. Both lived on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and escaped slavery as young adults; Douglass in 1838 and Tubman in 1849. After escaping enslavement both sat about, in their own way, to liberate other enslaved peoples.
Douglass championed the liberation of the enslaved publicly through his work as an abolitionist, orator, and writer. Tubman defiantly, bravely, yet secretly led others to freedom via the Underground railroad. She was proud to report, that she “never lost a single passenger”.
Douglass had great admiration for Tubman’s efforts. When a biography on Tubman’s life, “Moses Of Her People” was released in 1868, Tubman requested an endorsement from Douglass for the book. He replied with this letter:
Rochester, August 29, 1868
I am glad to know that the story of your eventful life has been written by a kind lady and that the same is soon to be published. You ask for what you do not need when you call upon me for a word of commendation. I need such words from you far more than you can need them from me, especially where your superior labors and devotion to the cause of the lately enslaved of our land are known as I know them. The difference between us is very marked. Most that I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been in public, and I have received much encouragement at every step of the way. You, on the other hand, have labored in a private way. I have wrought in the day – you in the night. I have had the applause of the crowd and the satisfaction that comes of being approved by the multitude, while the most that you have done has been witnessed by a few trembling, scarred, and foot-sore bondmen and women, whom you have led out of the house of bondage, and whose heartfelt, “God bless you,” has been your only reward. The midnight sky and the silent stars have been the witnesses of your devotion to freedom and of your heroism. Excepting John Brown – of sacred memory – I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people than you have. Much that you have done would seem improbable to those who do not know you as I know you. It is to me a great pleasure and a great privilege to bear testimony for your character and your works and to say to those to whom you may come, that I regard you in every way truthful and trustworthy.
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