Harriet Tubman Biography

Harriet Tubman Biography

Harriet Tubman, originally named Araminta Ross, stands as a remarkable figure in American history, celebrated for her unwavering commitment to abolition and social justice. Born around March 1822 into slavery in Dorchester County, Maryland, Tubman faced the harsh reality of a childhood marked by beatings and whippings from enslavers. A pivotal moment occurred when she suffered a severe head injury, inflicted by an overseer’s errant throw, leaving her with lifelong symptoms of dizziness, pain, and hypersomnia.

Despite the adversity she faced, Tubman’s spirit remained resilient. Her escape to Philadelphia in 1849 marked the beginning of an extraordinary journey. Instead of embracing her newfound freedom, she returned to Maryland to liberate her family, initiating a series of daring missions. Operating under the alias “Moses,” Tubman utilized the Underground Railroad—a network of safe houses and anti-slavery activists—to guide around 70 enslaved individuals to freedom, never losing a single passenger.

Tubman’s experiences were intertwined with a deep religious fervor, shaped by visions and dreams that she believed were premonitions from God. Her Methodist upbringing fueled her determination to fight against the institution of slavery. As the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 tightened its grip, Tubman adjusted her tactics, guiding escapees further north into Canada and aiding freed individuals in finding employment.

The onset of the Civil War found Tubman lending her courage and skills to the Union Army. Initially serving as a cook and nurse, she later became an armed scout and spy. Notably, she played a pivotal role in the liberation of more than 700 enslaved individuals during the raid at Combahee Ferry, earning her the distinction of being the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war.

Post-war, Tubman retired to her property in Auburn, New York, which she had purchased in 1859. There, she cared for her aging parents and remained actively involved in the women’s suffrage movement. Despite battling illness, Tubman continued to inspire as an icon of courage and freedom. Ultimately, she found solace in a home for elderly African Americans, a testament to her legacy of compassion and empowerment.

Harriet Tubman Early Life

The exact date of Harriet Tubman’s birth remains elusive, but it is believed to fall within the span of 1820 to 1825. She was part of a sizable family, one of nine siblings born to enslaved parents between 1808 and 1832 in Dorchester County, Maryland. Harriet’s mother, Harriet “Rit” Green, was the property of Mary Pattison Brodess, while her father, Ben Ross, belonged to Anthony Thompson. Interestingly, Thompson and Brodess later entered into matrimony.

Originally bestowed with the name Araminta Harriet Ross, Tubman received the endearing nickname “Minty” from her parents. At some point, Araminta opted to change her name to Harriet, a decision believed to be tied to her marriage and perhaps as a tribute to her mother.Harriet Tubman’s formative years were marked by profound adversity. The family endured the heart-wrenching separation of Tubman’s sisters, sold to distant plantations by Mary Brodess’ son Edward, a move that irreversibly fractured the familial bonds. Amidst this turmoil, a trader from Georgia approached Brodess with the intention of purchasing Rit’s youngest son, Moses. However, Rit staunchly resisted this attempt to further dismantle her family, providing a resilient example for her daughter, Harriet.

The specter of physical violence loomed large over Tubman’s early life. Daily existence for Tubman and her family was marred by the brutalities of slavery. Tubman herself bore the lasting impact of this violence, with permanent physical injuries inflicted during her childhood. In a poignant recollection, Tubman spoke of a specific day when she endured five lashes before the morning meal. These harrowing experiences left indelible scars that she carried throughout her life, serving as enduring reminders of the brutality she and her family faced under the yoke of slavery.

Harriet Tubman Birth And Family

Araminta “Minty” Ross, later known as Harriet Tubman, entered the world as the child of enslaved parents, Rit Green and Ben Ross. Rit served under the ownership of Mary Pattison Brodess, who was succeeded by her son Edward. Meanwhile, Ben was enslaved by Anthony Thompson, Mary Brodess’s second husband, overseeing a substantial plantation near the Blackwater River in Dorchester County, Maryland.

Tubman’s birth details are shrouded in the common ambiguity experienced by many enslaved individuals in the United States. While Tubman herself indicated 1825 as her birth year, official documents present conflicting information, with her death certificate suggesting 1815 and her gravestone noting 1820. Historian Kate Larson’s comprehensive biography, grounded in historical documents and Tubman’s runaway advertisement, supports March 1822 as the most probable time of her birth.

Tubman’s maternal grandmother, Modesty, arrived in the U.S. through the harrowing journey of the transatlantic slave trade from Africa. Unfortunately, no records exist detailing Tubman’s other ancestors. In her childhood, Tubman was told of a potential Ashanti lineage, a notion not definitively proven or disproven. Rit, Tubman’s mother and a cook for the Brodess family, possibly had a white father. In contrast, Ben, Tubman’s father, showcased his skills as a woodsman, managing timber work on Thompson’s plantation. The couple, who wed around 1808, faced the challenges of slavery together and bore nine children: Linah, Mariah Ritty, Soph, Robert, Minty (Harriet), Ben, Rachel, Henry, and Moses were part of the group.

Rit valiantly struggled against the threat of family separation imposed by slavery. Edward Brodess sold three of her daughters. severing familial ties irrevocably. When a trader from Georgia sought to purchase Rit’s youngest son, Moses, she orchestrated his concealment with the aid of fellow enslaved individuals and freedmen in the community. Confronting Brodess about the impending sale, Rit boldly declared her resistance, asserting that she would defend her son with force. This act of defiance, witnessed by Tubman, left an indelible mark, shaping her conviction in the potential of resistance against the oppressive institution of slavery.

Harriet Tubman Childhood

In Tubman’s early life, her mother’s assignment to “the big house” left little time for family, leading young Harriet to shoulder responsibilities such as caring for a younger brother and a baby—a common role in large families. At the tender age of five or six, Brodess arranged for her to work as a nursemaid for a woman named “Miss Susan.” Tubman’s duties included tending to the baby and rocking the cradle, a task that came with harsh consequences if the baby cried. On one occasion, she vividly recalled being lashed five times before breakfast, scars that would linger throughout her lifetime. Tubman, however, found ways to resist, from running away for five days to strategically layering clothing as a shield against beatings, and even fighting back.

Her childhood also included working for a planter named James Cook, checking muskrat traps in nearby marshes despite contracting measles. Severely ill, Tubman was sent back to Brodess, where her mother nursed her back to health before she was hired out once more. As she reminisced about her youth, Tubman expressed acute homesickness, likening herself to “the boy on the Swanee River,” referencing Stephen Foster’s song “Old Folks at Home.” Growing older and stronger, she was assigned to labor in the fields and forests, engaging in tasks like driving oxen, plowing, and hauling logs.

In her adolescence, Tubman endured a traumatic head injury when an overseer hurled a two-pound metal weight at a fleeing slave, inadvertently striking her and causing a skull fracture. Left unattended for two days, bleeding and unconscious, she suffered persistent headaches and began experiencing seizures, appearing unconscious but maintaining awareness of her surroundings. While a definitive medical diagnosis is challenging due to the lack of contemporary evidence, some suggest temporal lobe epilepsy or other conditions such as narcolepsy or cataplexy.

Remarkably, after this injury, Tubman began having visions and vivid dreams, interpreting them as revelations from God. These spiritual experiences profoundly influenced her personality and ignited a fervent faith in God. Despite her lack of literacy, Tubman absorbed Bible stories from her mother and likely attended a Methodist church with her family. Rejecting the passivity urged by white preachers, Tubman found inspiration in Old Testament tales of deliverance, shaping her unwavering commitment to resisting the oppression of slavery throughout her life.

Harriet Tubman Marriage

Anthony Thompson, the enslaver of Harriet Tubman’s father, had promised to grant him freedom at the age of 45. This commitment was honored by Thompson’s son after his father’s death in 1840. Following his manumission, Tubman’s father continued his work In the role of a timber estimator and foreman employed by the Thompson family. In the 1840s, Tubman took the initiative to secure the legal status of her mother, Rit, by paying a white attorney five dollars (equivalent to $160 in 2022). The lawyer’s investigation revealed that Atthow Pattison, Mary Brodess’s grandfather, stipulated in his will that Rit and her children would be granted freedom at age 45, with any children born after that point considered freeborn. Regrettably, this provision was disregarded by the Pattison and Brodess families when they inherited the enslaved family, making legal enforcement an insurmountable challenge for Tubman.

Around 1844, Tubman entered into marriage with John Tubman, a free black man. Details about their relationship remain sparse, but the union was complex due to Tubman’s enslaved status, as the legal status of the mother dictated that of her children. Any offspring born to Harriet and John would be born into enslavement. Such unions, where free people of color married enslaved individuals, were not uncommon in the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where a substantial portion of the black population was free. Families often comprised both free and enslaved members, reflecting the complex social dynamics of the time. It is suggested that Tubman and John might have considered plans to purchase her freedom.

After her marriage, Tubman underwent a significant change, adopting the name Harriet, discarding her birth name Araminta. The exact timing of this name change is uncertain, with some proposing that it occurred immediately after the wedding, while others suggest it coincided with Tubman’s burgeoning plans to escape from slavery. The adoption of her mother’s name might have been part of a religious transformation or a gesture to honor another family member.

Harriet Tubman Later Life

Despite Harriet Tubman’s invaluable service to the Union during the Civil War, she received minimal compensation for her efforts. As she was not officially recognized as a regular soldier, her work as a spy, scout, and nurse was only sporadically compensated, with her nursing role being entirely unpaid. Over three years of dedicated service earned her a meager total of $200, equivalent to $3,820 in 2022, reflecting the challenges she faced in documenting her unofficial status.

Tubman’s dedication to humanitarian work for her family and formerly enslaved individuals kept her perpetually in a state of poverty. When an anticipated appointment to an official military nursing position failed to materialize In July 1865, Tubman opted to go back to her residence in New York. A harrowing incident during a train journey in October 1865 highlighted the racial hostility she continued to face. Despite her service, a conductor compelled her to move from a regular passenger car to a less-desirable smoking car. Tubman’s refusal resulted in a violent confrontation, with additional men summoned to forcibly relocate her. White passengers joined in cursing Tubman, with some even urging the conductor to expel her from the train.

Following these events, Tubman spent her remaining years in Auburn, tending to her family and others in need. Juggling responsibilities, she managed her farm, She housed lodgers and engaged in different occupations to provide financial support for her aging parents. In 1869, she married Nelson Davis, a former slave and Union Army veteran 22 years her junior. Despite financial challenges, Tubman’s friends and supporters rallied to raise funds, and an authorized biography published in 1869 brought her additional income.

However, financial difficulties persisted. Tubman’s savings were depleted in paying off the mortgage on her farm in 1873, and she fell victim to swindlers in 1873, who duped her into believing they had a trunk of gold coins. This incident drew attention to her precarious financial situation, prompting renewed efforts to secure compensation for her Civil War service. Despite setbacks, including the defeat of a bill introduced in 1874 for a lump sum payment, ongoing advocacy eventually led to Tubman being eligible for a widow’s pension under the Dependent and Disability Pension Act of 1890.

Nelson Davis’s death in 1888 left Tubman a widow, and she became eligible for a widow’s pension, granted in 1895. Efforts to secure additional recognition and compensation persisted, resulting in a compromise amount of $20 per month in 1899, which included $8 from her widow’s pension and an additional $12 for her service as a nurse. Despite the challenges and injustices she faced, Tubman’s resilience and determination remained unwavering throughout her later years.

Harriet Tubman Death

Harriet Tubman’s remarkable life came to an end on March 10, 1913, as she succumbed to pneumonia. Surrounded by friends and family, she passed away at approximately 93 years of age. In her later years, the head injuries sustained during her tumultuous early life grew increasingly painful and disruptive. Seeking relief, Tubman underwent brain surgery at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital to alleviate the persistent pains and “buzzing” she experienced regularly.

As her health declined, Tubman was eventually admitted to the rest home named in her honor. Her final resting place is marked with military honors at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, a fitting tribute to her enduring legacy of courage and service. Harriet Tubman’s indomitable spirit, resilience, and tireless efforts in the fight against slavery continue to inspire generations, leaving an indelible mark on American history.

Harriet Tubman Age

Harriet Tubman, born on March 6, 1822, lived to the age of 91 until her passing in 1913. Raised in a well-established Christian family in Dorchester County, Maryland, she was an American by nationality and held strong beliefs in the Christian religion.

Her early life was marked by the harsh realities of slavery, and unfortunately, she was unable to attend school or pursue higher education due to these circumstances. Despite the lack of formal education, Tubman’s early interests leaned towards politics. Even from her childhood, she displayed a keen interest in political matters, foreshadowing her later involvement in the abolitionist movement and her crucial role in the fight against slavery in the United States.

Harriet Tubman Net Worth And Income

Harriet Tubman net worth of historical figures, especially those like Harriet Tubman who lived in a time when financial records were not as meticulously documented as today, is a challenging task. Additionally, there’s no reliable evidence to suggest that Harriet Tubman had a net worth of $1.5 million as of 1913. In fact, it’s unlikely that Tubman accumulated significant wealth during her lifetime, considering her experiences as an enslaved person and her subsequent dedication to humanitarian causes rather than personal financial gain.

Harriet Tubman’s life was marked by her courageous efforts in the fight against slavery and her various roles as an abolitionist, civil war scout, spy, nurse, suffragist, and civil rights activist. Born into slavery, she endured beatings and whippings during her childhood. Her legacy is primarily defined by her selfless commitment to the liberation of enslaved individuals and Her efforts in promoting the progress of civil rights. and women’s suffrage. While the monetary value of her impact is immeasurable, it’s important to recognize Tubman’s profound influence on American history and social justice rather than attributing a specific net worth to her name.

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