Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Monument
A sign marking the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Monument.
Harriet Tubman took an estimated 19 trips to rescue slaves.
Backstory and Context
The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Monument consists of 25,000 acres of federal, state, and private lands in Dorchester County, Maryland. They are very significant to Tubman's early years and retell her life while she was enslaved and a conductor of the Underground Railroad. There are no park facilities on these sites.While the park is named after Harriet Tubman, you will not see her represented on site in structures and statues. The landscapes and waterways at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Monument are the same ones Tubman navigated and used for her Underground Railroad missions.
The national monument includes Stewart's Canal and Jacob Jackson's home site. Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument is a new national park and has no park facilities at this time. The park is in progress, and in the coming years there will be added services to the park done along with Maryland's planned Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park. It is a privately owned area with specific rules and regulations.
Harriet Tubman was born in in 1822 with the name Araminta Ross. She was born into slavery to slave parents named Harriet Green and Ben Ross. Harriet was owned by a woman named Mary Pattison Brodess. Harriet Green and Ben Boss had nine children together; three daughters were sold to another family, separating them. Harriet Tubman was rented as a young child to a woman named Miss Susan. Harriet’s job was to take care of Miss Susan’s baby during the night. If the baby cried, Harriet was whipped. The whippings left her with severe scars for the rest of her life. Harriet started wearing thick clothes as protection, fighting back, and running away. Throughout her childhood, Harriet Tubman was hired out to various masters. While she was working, she suffered a severe head injury when she was hit with a metal weight. For the rest of her life, she suffered from seizures, headaches, visions, and vivid dreams. This diminished her value as a slave.
In 1844 Harriet Tubman married a free black man named John Tubman. She took his last name and began using her mother’s name, Harriet. In 1849, Harriet’s owner passed away. Instead of waiting on the possibility of being sold, Harriet escaped with her brothers, Ben and Henry, on September 17, 1849. Later, her brothers experienced guilt and returned with Harriet. This did not stop Harriet from escaping again soon after. Harriet used the Underground Railroad to escape and used the North Star for direction. She eventually made it to Pennsylvania, a free state.
Once Harriet was in a free state, she began working odd jobs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. However, she felt that her family in Maryland should also experience freedom. Despite the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, she began rescuing family and other slaves beginning in December 1850. With each trip back to Maryland, she became more confident. On one return trip she discovered that her husband had married another woman, and he refused to go with Harriet. Soon, Harriet’s trips between Maryland and Pennsylvania turned into guiding former slaves to Ontario, where the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was not in effect.
It is estimated that Harriet Tubman made 19 trips and guided over 300 slaves to safety. In 1903 she donated her personal land to the church for the founding of Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged, which opened in 1908. In 1911 her health began to decline, and she moved into the aged home. She died of pneumonia in 1913 and was buried at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn with semi-military honors.
The Life of Harriet Tubman. New York History Net. . Accessed December 05, 2018. http://www.nyhistory.com/harriettubman/life.htm.