Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Tubman, Harriet

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TUBMAN, Harriet, abolitionist, b. near Cambridge, Dorchester co., Md., about 1821. She was the child of slaves of pure African blood, whose name was Ross. Her original Christian name of Araminta she changed to Harriet. When about thirteen years old she received a fracture of the skull at the hands of an enraged overseer, which left her subject during her whole life to fits of somnolency. In 1844 she married a free colored man named Tubman. In 1849, in order to escape being sent to the cotton-plantations of the south, she fled by night, and reached Philadelphia in safety. In December, 1850, she visited Baltimore and brought away her sister and two children, and within a few months returned to aid in the escape of her brother and two other men. Thenceforth she devoted herself to guiding runaway slaves in their flight from the plantations of Maryland along the channels of the “underground railroad,” with the assistance of Thomas Garrett and others. At first she conducted the bands of escaped slaves into the state of New York, but, when the fugitive-slave act began to be strictly enforced, she piloted them through to Canada. She made nineteen journeys, and led away more than 300 slaves. A reward of $40,000 was offered for her apprehension. Among the people of her race and the agents of the “underground railroad” she was known as “Moses.” During the civil war she performed valuable service for the National government as a spy and as a nurse in the hospitals.