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. Continue reading “Harriet Tubman’s Letter of Endorsement From Frederick Douglass”→
Christmas Eve 1854 – Harriet Tubman returned to her Maryland home to free her brothers Ben and Henry. Her coded message: “Tell my brothers to be always watching unto prayer and when the good old ship of Zion comes along, to be ready to step on board.” This was the second time that she attempted to help them escape. The first time was 1849 when she escaped. Ben and Henry became scared and turned back.
Traveling more than 100 miles, they arrived at William Still’s Anti-Slavery office in Philadelphia on Dec. 29, 1854.
A newly discovered photo of a “younger” Harriet Tubman (1819? – 1913) is getting lots of publicity in the media! The photo was discovered among other pictures belonging to a deceased friend of Tubman’s. It is estimated that Tubman is in her early to mid 40’s in the picture. Her photo along with 44 other photos will be auctioned on March 30 by Swann Galleries. The photo was likely taken just after the Civil War. Tubman was then residing in Auburn, NY on land that would later become the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park.
Tubman also made the news in 2016 after it was announced that her image would be added to the $20 bill beginning in 2030 replacing, President Andrew Jackson. While many of us are familiar with Tubman’s bravery and heroism in bringing hundreds of people to freedom, via the Underground Railroad, I’d like to share some lesser known facts about her life!
Tubman’s was given the name Araminta Ross at birth (nickname: Minty). She adopted the name Harriet after running away to escape slavery to aid in disguising her identity. Harriet was her mother’s name. Her last name, “Tubman” was taken when she married her first husband John Tubman who was a free man.
It is estimated that Tubman walked approximately 90 when she escaped slavery. No one knows exactly how long it took her to make the trip.
Tubman’s husband was not interested in following her North. He remarried a free woman of color after Tubman’s escape and had several children with her; leaving Harriet heart-broken. She would later remarry Nelson Davis in 1869. He was 22 years younger than Tubman. They remained married for 19 years until his death.
Tubman suffered from a health condition that would cause her to fall asleep suddenly without warning. She also experienced severe headaches, and seizures. The condition (possibly temporal epilepsy) was caused due to a head injury she received while enslaved at the age of 12. She was hit in the head with a 2 pound iron weight that was thrown at another enslaved African but hit Tubman instead. After her head injury she began to see visions which she believed were from God.
Tubman never had any biological children. However, she and her second husband Nelson Davis adopted a child (a girl), Gertie in 1874.
When rescuing enslaved persons, she threatened to shoot any of her “passengers” who thought to turn back.
Tubman was a soldier, spy, and nurse for the Union Army during the civil war. She was known for her ability to treat dysentery successfully using native herbs.
She was the first woman to lead an armed war expedition during the Combahee River Raid with 300 other African American soldiers. 3 gun boats were used in the raid to liberate 700 enslaved blacks in South Carolina. She would later be denied payment for her war time service and was only able to collect a widow’s pension from her husband’s death which was $20/month. Ironically, in 2016, Tubman was selected to replace Andrew Jackson on the new $20 bill which will be released in 2030.
In the late 1890’s Tubman had brain surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital due to pain and “buzzing” in her head which made it difficult for her to sleep (likely related to her childhood injury). She refused to take anesthesia and instead chewed a bullet during the operation. This was something she had seen soldiers do during the civil war when their limbs were amputated.
She established a home for the aged and indigent in Auburn, NY where she spent the last years of her life.
Harriet Tubman’s life and legacy is certainly one that deserves to be celebrated! She was truly a phenomenal woman.
Many of us know about Harriet Tubman’s heroism as a conductor on the Underground Railroad and how she helped hundreds of slave escape to freedom in the north. But did you that she also established a home for the elderly? In 1896 Hariett Tubman purchased 25 acres of land adjacent to her home for $1,450 in Auburn, NY to build a home for elderly blacks. The Thompson AME Zion Church in Auburn, NY assisted her financially. That support along with a mortgage from a local bank helped her to pay for the property.
Unable to make tax payments on the property, she donated it to the AME Zion Church in 1903, with the stipulation that the church would continue to operate the home. It took 5 years to fully staff and equip the home. On June 23, 1908 the Harriet Tubman Home for the Elderly was inaugurated. Tubman, herself, eventually was cared for in the home for the elderly when her health began to deteriorate in 1911. It was there that she died in 1913. All 3 properties, Harriet Tubman’s residence, Thompson AME Zion Church, and the Harriet Tubman Home For The Elderly are all considered National Historic Landmarks. The Harriet Tubman Home for The Elderly continues to be operated by The AME Zion church in Auburn, NY.