“The Moses of Her People”: Ten Little-Known Facts about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad

By: Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services
Sunday, April 15, 2018

Born into slavery in Maryland, Harriet Tubman escaped to freedom in 1849.

Making use of the secret network known as the Underground Railroad, Tubman traveled nearly 90 miles to Philadelphia. She crossed into the free state of Pennsylvania with a feeling of relief and awe, later recalling, “When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.”

Tubman eventually became the most famous "conductor" on the Underground Railroad. She risked her life many times to lead hundreds of people from the plantation slavery system to freedom.  A leading abolitionist before the Civil War, Tubman also helped the Union Army during the war, working as a nurse and as a spy, among other roles.  After the Civil War ended, Tubman dedicated her life to helping needy former slaves and the elderly. In honor of her life, the U.S. Treasury Department announced in 2016 that Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the new $20 bill.

Check out these ten interesting facts about this remarkable woman and the Underground Railroad she so famously guided:

  1. Harriet Tubman’s birth name was Araminta Ross. She was nicknamed “Minty” by her mother.
  2. In 1844 she married John Tubman, a free African American.  After Harriet escaped, she came back for him but he had married another woman.
  3. In her ten years conducting the Underground Railroad, Tubman made 19 trips and guided her parents, siblings, relatives and friends, for a total of about 300 slaves.
  4. The Underground Railroad was not underground nor was it a railroad. It was called “underground” because of its secretive nature and “railroad” because it was an emerging form of transportation.
  5. The Underground Railroad had many routes: most went to northern states, Canada, or Mexico.
  6. Underground Railroad code was used in songs sung by slaves to communicate with one another.
  7. Historians estimate that about 100,000 slaves escaped using the Underground Railroad network.
  8. Harriet Tubman remained illiterate for her entire life.
  9. She was buried with military honors at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, New York.
  10. The US Maritime Commission named its first Liberty Ship after her.

 

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