In the 1840¹s and 1850¹s American abolitionist¹s were a small minority in every part of the country. Harriet Tubman was one of the women who joined the attack on slavery. She stood out from most of the other abolitionists. The evidence that I will present to you shows how she wasn¹t satisfied merely to be free or even to give speeches against slavery. Harriet Tubman was important to the abolition movement because she put her ideas to action.
Harriet was born a slave in Bucktown, Maryland 1. From the time she was born she was taught to be wary of the white men. Two of her sisters had been sold to a slave trader and she vowed that she would never let that happen to her.2 From my reading, Harriet Tubman seemed different from most of the other slaves around her. She had a rebellious nature, always getting into trouble. Her parents introduced her to religion, thinking maybe it would crush her rebellious nature.
One way to deal with a difficult child was religion. Ben and Rit [Harriet¹s parents] were regular churchgoers and Harriet learned Bible verses. Her favorite was ³Lo¹, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.² She also liked the Bible verses about deliverance. If she heard of a fugitive slave on his way north, she thought of the verse ³Hide the outcast; betray him not that wandereth. (Bentley p.16) 3
So, even as a young girl, Harriet was already thinking about deliverance and fugitive slaves going north. She had heard of revolts and rebellions against slavery, and knowing how Harriet was, I¹m sure she cheered them on.
Harriet went to great lengths to protect her fellow slaves. Like every other slave, obviously, she too hated slavery. But I think there was more to slavery than just hate, for Harriet. In one case, she put her life on the line to protect a slave named Jim from getting beaten. She refused to move when a white supervisor asked her to help him tie up Jim for a whipping. When Jim made a run for it, Harriet blocked the supervisor from chasing after Jim. So, he grabbed a 2lb. weight and threw it towards Jim. The weight hit Harriet in the forehead instead, and Jim got away.4 Luckily, Harriet survived her near-death experience. ³The mark on Harriet¹s forehead remained a visible scar of the brutality of slavery. The wound went deep into her heart.² (Bentley p.24)
In 1849, Harriet¹s master, Edward Brode...
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...f the inspiration and hope she gave to her people. Harriet was even nicknamed ³Moses² by the people she saved. She did what others were too scared to do. It wasn¹t guaranteed that Harriet would be successful on every single mission. In my eyes she had a lot to lose if she was caught, but I think to her she felt like at least she had saved some slaves. What sacrifice!
Harriet Tubman was more than an ex-slave turned abolitionist. She was also a nurse and a spy for the Union Army. Always one to turn dreams into action, she joined the war effort in 1861. Harriet was probably the first women, black or white, to go to the battle front. 9 The army used her as a spy, liaison, and a nurse. So even when she wasn¹t taking groups of slaves up north, she was still helping others.
What an incredible woman! Harriet¹s diligence to do right, and her determination to keep with it until her purpose was fulfilled, still inspires me today. I do admire Martin Luther King, Jr. and many other abolitionists, but not as much as Harriet Tubman. I don¹t know of any other woman that accomplished as much as she did, in one lifetime. Harriet Tubman truly is the ultimate hero of the abolition movement.
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