We like to think that Harriet Tubman, born on March 6, 1820, was reincarnated in Rosa Parks. After all, Parks was born the year that Tubman died. Born in an enslaved family, Harriet Tubman learned from her mother what dignity means and she swore that she would always fight oppression with freedom and equality. These convictions led Tubman to become a fierce activist for slavery abolition and become the first woman ever to command a military operation during the American Civil War. This paved the way for her freedom and the awakening of an unstoppable anti-slavery movement that continues until this day.
Minty, Moses of her people
March 6, 1820
March 10, 1913 (age 93)
Harriet Ross Tubman, born Araminta ‘Minty’ Ross, was born a slave on the plantation of Edward Brodess in Dorchester County, Maryland. Her mother was Harriet ‘Rit’ Green owned by Mary Pattison Brodess, and her father was Ben Ross owned by Anthony Thomson. The exact date of her birth is unclear because most records belonging to slaves are incomplete or were not given enough importance, but it is agreed that it was between 1820 and 1822. Tubman had three sisters who were sold to other owners early on, tearing the family apart. Her only brother, Moses, was hidden from any buyer and Rit promised she would kill anyone who dare take her son away. In that event, Harriet learned the value of standing for her dignity and assumed strong positions against slavery as a political idea.
Ben Ross was freed in 1840, but Tubman’s mother was still enslaved. Tubman married John Tubman — a freedman — in 1844. This started giving clues to Harriet on how to fight for the freedom of her people from a legal point of view. From 1849 to 1851, she started working as an operator in the “Underground Railroad,” helping African-Americans escape to the north by taking her train. This job helped her learn and get in close contact with the towns and people that she was fighting for, and spending so much time looking at maps gave her a strategic and military background that few others had.
Tubman then joined the “Union Army” as a spy and often disguised herself to scout enemy territory during the American Civil War. Her assistance was valued not just on the military and logistical fronts, but she also worked as a nurse, treating injured soldiers with traditional herbal treatments. She gathered enough money to fund the liberty of many former slaves after the War and joined one political fight as she also protested in favor of women’s right to vote. During her last 30 years, she cared for the elderly in a New York home and died in 1913.
Tubman's marriage to John Tubman is the first time she considers the difficulty of attaining independence by legal methods, and also realizes that more needed to be done.
Tubman escapes when she is delivered to Anthony Thompson, but she later returns and then uses the “Underground Railroad” network to get away once more.
Tubman operates the railway network from 1849 to 1851 and helps all slaves trying to flee north.
Tubman’s military inputs for the Union are often described as being determinant from a military point of view to win territory and anticipate the Confederates’ movements.
Tubman begins activity in the women’s right-to-vote movement and even attends rallies as a speaker.
Why We Love Harriet Tubman
She’s a symbol of hope
She may be long gone but Tubman’s legacy continues to live on. She is now a symbol of the African-American struggle for freedom.
Her multiple abilities
Tubman not only had full knowledge of battle logistics and a deep understanding of the terrain, but she successfully healed dysentery in Union soldiers. She was an amazing woman.
Not even her life-long illness stopped her
She suffered constant headaches, dizziness, narcolepsy, hallucinations, and seizures as a result of her childhood accident. And not even this made her conform to the chains.
5 Surprising Facts
Her original name was Araminta Ross
Tubman changed her name after marriage and it probably had to do with her plans of escaping slavery.
First African-American woman in the military
Tubman was in the “Union Army” and her leadership was fundamental for the Union victory.
She suffered from narcolepsy
As a consequence of a blow to her head with a heavy piece of metal, Tubman developed symptoms such as these.
She had brain surgery without anesthesia
To heal her brain damage related to a head injury when she was 11, Tubman underwent brain surgery without anesthesia.
Harriet had one daughter
Her marriage to her second husband resulted in the birth of Gertie — her daughter.
Harriet Tubman FAQs
Did Harriet Tubman marry a white man?
No. She had two marriages, and both were free black men.
Did Harriet Tubman jump off a bridge?
Yes. After she escaped, she was surrounded by slave owners and she jumped into the river, preferring to choose between freedom or death.
How old would Harriet Tubman would be today?
Tubman’s exact age would be 202 years 2 months 7 days old if alive.
Harriet Tubman’s birthday dates