The Hidden History of Harriet Tubman

By: A’Breya Young 

Who’s That Lady? 

When covering the topic of the Civil War, one of the most monumental key figures mentioned is Harriet Tubman. The world may know her as “Black Moses” who was a “conductor” of the underground railroad, however, there are more pieces to Tubman’s story. 

Early Life 

In March 1822, Harriet Tubman was born in Dorchester County, Maryland. Originally named Araminta “Minty ” Ross, as a slave, Harriet was brutally treated by her owners, with one incident affecting her life forever. As an adolescent, Tubman suffered from epilepsy after an overseer hit her in the head with a 2-pound metal ball when trying to catch a fleeting slave. This incident could’ve changed in an instant if Harriet didn’t refuse to catch the fugitive, but, it revealed her selfless and natural rebellious character, making her suffrage a catalyst in finding the route to freedom. Although Tubman’s head injury drastically changed her quality of life, it’s described as a blessing from those who she helped free. While Tubman struggled with abrupt sleeping spells, she’d have vivid dreams relating to her religious reverence. Her faith is what’s believed to have kept her safe during such a dangerous exploration.  

The Walk of Faith

There are hundreds of historical documents containing quotes from Harriet Tubman that all have the underlying factor of her faith. As Harriet traveled back to the South to free the enslaves, she described her epileptic episodes as a way to communicate with God, as He revealed dangers of the future and safer routes to take leading to the North. Although Tubman’s religious experience is deemed to be logically disputable, her success in outrunning enslavers when traveling back to the South contradicts the views of critics. Through all the countless years of Harriet “conducting” the Underground Railroad, one trip put her marriage on a thin line.  

Love Story

Little is known about Tubman’s first marriage but the vows that were broken are vastly emphasized. In 1844, at the age of 25, Harriet married a free African American, named John Tubman. With being married as an enslaved person, the odds were against this couple as the chances of being sold were significantly high. To be protected from potential marital issues, Harriet’s dreams to be free were a force to be reckoned with. Although John declined the offer to join Harriet on her voyage up north, in 1949, she left her husband and fled to Philadelphia. This failed marriage, however, didn’t stop Harriet from helping to free many of the enslaves and starting a new life of her own. 

The Civil War

During the Civil War, Tubman worked for the Union army as a cook, nurse, and spy. Her experience in leading slaves in the Underground Railroad greatly benefited the army which led generals to entrust her with great powers. On June 1st, Harriet partnered with Colonel James Montgomery to conduct a raid along the Combahee River, to rescue the enslaved. Leading 150 people, Harriet was able to rescue around 700 of the enslaved without losing any men. One other thing to note that many don’t know about is, this woman also worked to heal the sick. Many men died from dysentery during the Civil War and Tubman found a way to boil the roots of lilies and geranium into a stew which cured many patients. 

Her Legacy 

Harriet’s story is briefly covered in history today and more people should be aware of her life aside from traveling from north to south. Those of color now have the comforts of freedom that takes through lives that were put on the line. Harriet may be absent from this earth, but her legacy lives on as she paved the way for the nation to be racially unified. 

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