A group of escaped slaves lay hidden in a swamp. They were hungry and miserable, and one of the men was ready to give up. But their leader knew she couldn’t risk his talking. She stood up, put a gun to his head and said calmly: “Move or die.” He decided to keep going.

That little woman was Harriet Tubman, one-time field hand on a Maryland plantation. In 1849 – fearing that she was about to be sold into the Deep South, where a field hand’s life was short and terrible – she ran for it. The Underground Railroad brought her safely to the abolitionist haven of Philadelphia. There, she found work and launched the first of many journeys south to rescue other slaves. In her years as “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, Tubman made 13 incredibly risky expeditions and helped some 120 people to freedom. Other conductors were caught, but Tubman had an instinct for danger. Living for brief periods in Canada, she also worked there to help settle the growing flood of refugees.

With the outbreak of Civil War, Harriet Tubman went home to work as cook, nurse, scout and spy for the Union Army. After the war, she settled in New York State, married and continued to work for the rights of Blacks (and women). Abolitionist John Brown had been an admirer, calling her “General Tubman.” It was a name she earned.


HARRIET TUBMAN. NATIONAL HISTORIC PERSON OF CANADA. DESIGNATED 2005. PLAQUE RECOMMENDED: ST. CATHARINES, ONTARIO
Janet Uren (WordImage Inc.)
Maggie Fawcett, Claire Brodie, Parks Canada Agency, Multicultural Branch / Department of Canadian Heritage

Ontario, CANADA
UNITED STATES
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