An Iconic Figure of Harriet Tubman

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Harriet Tubman: The Birth of a Strong Spirit in Unbearable Conditions that Became the Base for the Phenomenon of a Slave-Leader


The theme of slavery and struggle against racial inequalities is traditionally associated with the history of the United States of America. Being defined as the country with legal institutions referring to using human resources, slavery marks a distinct dark period for the USA. The slavery particularly involved African American and African descents. In general, the events and tendencies connected with the slavery in the country broach the question of violence and horrible treatment, but that very period brought some iconic figures that are famous and remarkable in the United States. These iconic figures are still known to this very day. One of these iconic figures was named Harriet Tubman. Harriet Tubman is one of such people who differed by her strong spirit, firmness, and leadership qualities during the struggle against slavery. Although being uneducated and use to the role of superiority, the woman was raised on the principles of freedom and equality that led to her activity during the war for freedom. Her deeds are connected with rescuing hundreds of slaves and even military participation in the Civil War grounded on her desire to gain freedom and serve for the good of others. The research examines different stages in the life of Harriet Tubman from the early childhood till the adult years based on the events that influenced the establishment of her personality as a leader. Including different studies about the life of this famous person, the research paper aims to shed light on the most important periods in her life in order to connect it to the theme of leadership.

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Early Years of Harriet Tubman in the Context of Leadership Traits Qualities

The childhood of Harriet Tubman was solely effected from being birthed into a family of slavery. I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors cant say ” I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger. Harriet Tubman was an influential leader throughout her lifetime and was nicknamed the Moses of her people after leading her people to freedom (Rees, 2007). All individuals will, forever remember her exceptional leaderships skills during the Underground Railroad and the Civil War.

Harriet Tubmanr’s early life was a mystery since no one was fully aware of her day of birth. Throughout history, everyone was only aware of her being born into slavery at the time of her birth. Since being born into slavery, Harriet was unsure of her actual date of birth. According to her death certificate, her day of birth is estimated to be in the year of 1815. During the year of approximately 1815, Harriet Tubman was born with the name of Araminta Ross, in Dorchester County, Maryland. She was later nickname Harriet, which became the more common name used. Her parents were Harriet Green and Ben Ross. She came from a huge family where she had eight other siblings; Linah, Mariah Ritty, Soph, Robert, Ben, Rachel, Henry, and Moses. Therefore, she had four brothers and four sisters. Harriet or Araminta was the fifth child born into her family. From being born into slavery, Harriet was unable to have much of a childhood due to having multiple occupations as a child.

For example, she was responsible for babysitting an infant at the early age of five years old. At a very young age, she was also responsible for household work, but was limited to how much responsibility she could have because of her young age. Her first punishment occurred when she was babysitting an infant. The babyr’s mother named Susan punished her each time the infant was to misbehave. As a punishment, she would receive a whip around her neck. Harrietr’s mother played a role in nursing Harriet back to health after being punished multiple times. She would continue to be hired by other households for other occupations. Harriet describes her childhood as a difficult time and was considered a period of her life where she was neglected. As Harriet grew older to about the age of 12 years old, she was able to have more responsibilities and began to work in the fields. Also during this time of her life, she became to increase her faith as a Christian.

Living on a farm near Buck town, on the Maryland Eastern Shore, the family is known as quite a close one that oriented its relations towards caring and love (Dagbovie & Humez, 2004). Harrietr’s parents tried to put maximum efforts on continuing to stay together even in the conditions of their work as slaves. Without doubts, such attitudes influenced Harriet as a personality shaping the notions of unity and importance to be together in order to become stronger. This is why the slave family mostly had one owner that provided them with the opportunity to remain together as a family.

It is true to say that the records from Harrietr’s childhood are not numerous but several facts remain known that put some questions to the origin of a girl. It was not a new thing for the owners to have a sexual connection with their slaves, especially female ones. The origin of the girl can also be under the question because according to the data, she was provided the dispensation that was intended to provide for the emancipation of illegitimate, mixed-race offspring (Brown, 2012, p. 3). However, following the records, Harrietr’s mother was not a pure Negro but a daughter of a white man that could explain the fact of dispensation.

The attitude of an owner and treatment of Harriet was the way to get more profit from the work of the whole family became the reason for the development of patience and facing complete unfairness that influenced her as a future leader. The childhood of a girl cannot be called usual or even adequate. She was used as the means in the hands of the owner in achieving his personal goals in getting more profit. Being just an African American child, she suffered from everyday whipping that resulted in many wounds and bloody cuts on her skin.

However, the girl used to such behavior from her white owner that made her patience and resistance stronger. As a tradition, she even discovered the way to protect her body from whipping using a special way of wearing clothes (Dagbovie & Humez, 2004). Moreover, she understood the need for simulation her cryings during the beatings in order to pretend the effect of suffering. Such a situation can be considered as the one that drew Harrietr’s attention to the need of following a particular order and discipline in order to minimize the pain. The girl learned from the very young ages the importance of pretending as the option to reduce the beating. According to the data, in some cases, she tried to avoid the whippings hiding in barns without any food and normal conditions in order not to face everyday violence. Later, as being a house worker, Harriet also experienced a lot of difficulties connected with her new duties that were not supported by special training, which also followed by physical pain as well. During these tough years, there was a lesson given about people, primarily white menr’s, brutality and horrible attitude towards African American slaves (Crewe, 2006). The angriness and opposition grew inside young girl desiring to change the situation for the better.

The Emergence of the Spirit of a Struggle and Opposition

The high attention of the girl to the theme of slave protests and attempts to influence the current situation led to the development of the idea of opposition in her heart. Harriet always took part in the discussions of slave uprisings that coincided with her inner feelings about the destiny of black slaves. Being attracted by the theme of slaves opposition in the South, the girl drew the attention of her owners that caused changing the place of work. The new family decided to break her spirit by constant punishment, deplorable conditions, and unfair treatment (Bradford, 2012).

After the process of education of a disobedient slave, she was returned to the primary owners as a new one without the ideas about protests and opposition. However, those events influenced Harriet both physically and morally creating a soldier who was ready to struggle and fight for equality and fairness. The spirit of opposition rooted in the treatment of white owners and their approach to her usage as a slave directed the girl towards the desire to seek justice. The tasks given by the owners had none in common with the complexity and physical strength of a young girl, but Harriet succeeded in all the activities with the power of an adult thanks to her strong spirit (Cole-Arnal, 2005). Being strong physically, Harriet was ready to complete any task with the same speed and results as the slaves who were much older than she. Unfortunately, such ability to work as a strong adult caused a serious trauma to her head at the age of fifteen that played a huge role on the whole life of Harriet Tubman.

The Role of Religion and Physical Trauma in Creation the Dream About Freedom

Physical trauma in the combination with religion and spirituality became the most influential thing that had an impact on Harriet as a future leader for many slaves. Without any doubts, religion placed an important role for the slaves referring to the notion of hope and freedom. Referring to slavery, it is impossible to avoid the theme of religions because sermons and spirituals shaped the language of freedom into biblical parables (Brown, 2012). Following the example of her parents, Harriet had a strong faith in God that was proved by her manner of worship. From the very young ages, the girl established a special connection between her and God that was centered on the principles of justice (Walker, 2009). Harriet treated God as a close person with whom she could discuss all her troubles and problems. Such conversations with God gave her power and filled her spirit with strength and confidence.

However, physical trauma of her head became the base for a deeper connection between Harriet and religion. Her injury caused different dreams and visions connected with God in particular. Such a mix of circumstances and spirituality affected her vision of a mission chosen for her by Creator (Cole-Arnal, 2005). Harriet perceived her sufferings as the base for the establishment of a strong person who could lead people to freedom. She was practically obsessed with the idea of Godr’s plan about her that made her achieve freedom not only to herself, but many other people who were involved in slavery.

The Idea of Freedom and Its Achieving as the Leading One that coordinated Harriet as a Leader

According to the early records, the nature of Harriet was originally oriented towards the opposition to the punishment of slaves and any signs of cooperation during their beating. As a result, Harriet herself always suffered from the whipping because of the rejection of any kind of cooperation within the owners. This is why, based on the experience of brutality and violence, the girl connected the death of her owner with achieving freedom. Lord, if youre never going to change that manr’s heart, kill him and take him out of the way so he wont do more mischief (Brown, 2012,). However, realizing the rule of selling the slaves after the death of their owner to the other ones, she decided to achieve the desirable freedom. Harriet married the free slave John Tubman in order to get rid of any signs of slavery in her life. However, being born a slave, she had to escape from injustice physically moving to the North. The idea of freedom and abilities to behave in woods in such a way to be unnoticed provided Harriet with the opportunity to escape from slavery (Crewe, 2006). Starting from Maryland, the woman finally got to New Jersey where she worked on different domestic positions.

Harriet did not end the struggle by achieving personal freedom but focused on her mission as a saver of the lives of her family and other people. She became the power that helped her parents and siblings to escape. To go into more depth, during her mission of saving others, she attempted to involve her ex-husband into the affair, but he refused such proposal because of the lack of faith in such an idea and the fact of having a new family. Being dedicated to the idea of freedom as the opposition to her state while being a slave always punished with extreme violence. She still had a strong motivation to follow the pace to freedom (Gumbs, 2014). Leading such ideals, Harriet decided not only escape from slavery herself, but bring good for other slaves who experienced the same things as she did in her childhood every day. Not following the aim to become a leader for others in terms of power, Harrietr’s views became the basic ones for her establishment as a person who delivered good to others; that is why the woman is usually associated with Moses and his deeds (Santovec, 2013).

Harrietr’s Underground Railroad Activity as the Base for Getting Leadership Experience

The role of Harriet in the Underground Railroad Activity cannot be questioned referring to the number of slaves saved thanks to her personality traits. The Underground Railroad can be defined as the way for the slaves to move from the South to the North in the direction of freedom. Traditionally, there were those people who participated in the process helping slaves to overcome the obstacles during their way. The name of Harriet became an iconic one in the Underground Railroad affairs referring to her contribution to saving other slaves from their horrible lives in inferiority (Gold, 2016). Her plan consisted of two trips every year oriented towards seeking for those people who wanted to escape from slavery. She accompanied African Americans giving them chance to become free. The black community in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada became the location for Harriet connected with her activity during the time of preparation and saving money for the further raids in the South (Bradford, 2012).

The danger and ability to take a risk in such situations for the sake of others became the prominent features of Harriet as the leader in her rescuing campaign. Such activity influenced her leadership skills referring to special ways to motivate others and assure them in the possibility of freedom (Gumbs, 2014). The woman possessed those features that raised the spirit of other slaves referring to courage and self-control: Way down in Egypt-land. Tell ol Pharaoh to let My people go (Brown, 2012, p. 10). As a result, it increased peopler’s faith during the whole trip from the South to the North. Furthermore, Harriet even had a loaded pistol as the means to assure the safety of her people putting under the risk because of different dangers. She became the mentor and example of self-confidence in following the highest aim for those who were too weak or unable to cope with all the difficulties (Gold, 2016). What is more important, Harriet provided fugitive slaves with further support in Canada considering involving them into communities or organizing their own structures oriented towards more or less adequate conditions of life (Crewe, 2007). It means that those who were accompanied by her as a conductor were assured with her personal help in a new place. So, it is fair to consider Harrietr’s personal qualities as the ones of a true leader who in any case leads his or her people til the desirable result (Klenke, 2011, p. 49).

Leadership Skills of the Woman During Civil War

The name of Harriet Tubman is not famous only for her deeds referring to rescuing slaves but the ones during the Civil War. The desire of the woman to make everyone free and equal in the United States led her to the full involvement into serving to others even in case of maximum risk for herself. Such desire found its expression in her participation in the Civil War (Dagbovie & Humez, 2004). As a result, her activity in the war is generally associated with the role of a black spy working for important military operations especially in the member of the 2nd South Carolina Colored Infantry (Chism, 2005). Harriet accomplished the tasks of collecting important information facing the risks from the enemies. The work of Harriet was described as extremely courageous and brave according to the womanr’s common sense and imagination referring to the ways to find the solution to any risky situation (Allen & Bauer, 2009). According to the data and records left by the captains during the Civil War, that small but very brave and powerful woman became the incarnation of a real leader for hundreds of frightened slaves in their way to freedom. That is why Harrietr’s contribution to the victories and achievements of the Civil War cannot be questioned. She became an idol always ready to self-sacrifice for those who needed motivation and push (Klenke, 2011, p. 49). Even though the woman lacked education and special military training, her actions spoke louder than millions of intelligent speeches. She gained special respect not only from African Americans but White Americans as well as one of the most remarkable figures in the history of the United States.


The research is based on primary and secondary analysis as the main sources in examining Harriet Tubmanr’s way as a leader. Collection of different materials concerning her childhood experience and adult ages provides the opportunity to analyze all the factors that influenced the formation of the most important qualities of a true leader. That is why different articles, books, and records from the Harriet herself served as the base for the research referring to her main achievements of one of the most influential slave-leaders in the history of the country.


Harriet Tubman is considered to be a well-known figure referring to the dark part of slavery in the history of the US. Her activities during the period of struggle against using African Americans as human resources are deeply rooted in the continuous establishment of the woman as a leader. According to the research data, Harrietr’s horrible childhood full of violence and brutality from the white owners became the beginning of the formation of opposition and spirit of freedom that she possessed during the whole life. The womanr’s life in slavery made her strong both physically and morally that oriented her towards the desire to be free. As a result, based on her strong religious faith referring to the notion of hope and justice, Harriet managed to escape from slavery using braveness, courage, self-reliance, and common sense. Moreover, the woman found her devotion to serving other people in slavery that made her a savior for those in need. Although lacking formal education and experience in the military sphere, Harriet Tubman participated in many operations connected with the Underground Railroad not leaving her people even after moving to the North and the Civil War serving as a spy. She showed her ability to act as a true leader raising motivation and hope in the hearts of many slaves. That is why the name of Harriet Tubman is referred to the unbelievable phenomenon of a slave-leader who would be famous for many years.

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An Iconic Figure Of Harriet Tubman. (2019, Jun 10). Retrieved September 28, 2022 , from

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