Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland in the year of 1820 and her early life was filled with hardships. Her brothers were moved to distant plantations and separated from her family at a young age. Physical violence was a daily routine for Tubman, once being struck by a two-pound weight that caused injuries such as seizures, severe headaches, and narcolepsy for the rest of her life. The family Harriet’s father was enslaved to deem him a free man from manumission, but the family that owned Harriet chose to not set them free.
In 1849 Harriet decided to escape slavery after her owner fell ill and died. Tubman headed off for Philadelphia and used the Underground Railroad to do so. Over the course of a decade, Harriet Tubman returned to Maryland at least 13 times to rescue her parents, brothers, and other family members and friends to bring them to freedom. By 1860 Harriet Tubman was nicknamed “Moses.” Harriet Tubman stayed active during the Civil war becoming a nurse & cook. Eventually, she became an armed scout & spy for the Union Army. Tubman was the first female to lead an armed expedition in the war that freed more than 700 slaves in South Carolina.
In 1859, abolitionist Senator William H. Seward sold Harriet a piece of land in Auburn, New York. There was where Tubman and her family finally felt safe, it was a haven for them. Despite being well known, Tubman and her family were never financially stable. They made ends meet through the help of supporters, one named Sarah Bradford, who wrote a biography about Harriet and had all the proceeds going to the Tubman family. Harriet Tubman passed away on March 10th, 1913 surrounded by her friends and family in a rest home named in her honor.
Harriet Tubman, known all over the world for her courageous actions, became an American Icon after her passing. Tubman opened a nursing home for African Americans on her own property in New York, had a WWll Liberty Ship named after her and now a statue of Tubman resides in Maryland, that is also the first full-body statue of an African American women at the Capitol. There is now a “Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway” including a scenic driving tour that takes you by the plantation where Tubman grew up and the meeting house that she and many other Quaker abolitionists gathered.
Through the Month of March, the Rockford Housing Authority is recognizing the countless contributions that women have made to our nation. WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH is the history of women in the United States, the state of Illinois and our community. By way of exploring these important stories, you will able to understand our nation’s history and explore the remarkable legacies of American women. Through letters, photographs, film, and other primary sources of the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum you will join in commemorating and joining in celebration of the vital role of women in American history. https://womenshistorymonth.gov/