Harriet Tubman: a Women in US History

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Harriet Tubman was a well renowned public figure and a heroine who is popularly remembered for her contribution to the history of the United States. At the same time, Tubman is recognized as the most important symbol in the anti-slavery era. In fact, the actual activities she took part in her entire life made her prominence undisputable (Larson). In addition, she is the third most identified as an African American historical figure. Harriet was a political activist who was active as early the 1820s.Tubman escaped slavery to become an activist (King et al.). She played a very crucial role in bringing an end to slavery for the black people, bearing in mind that she was brought up in a community where there were entitled in slavery for a long period of time during those eras. She led hundreds of enslaved people to freedom along the underground rail tracks. Her efforts were significant in that they brought a great change for the blacks in the United States.

Harriet Tubmanr's Early Life

Harriet Tubman was born between the years 1820 and 1825 in Dorchester County, Maryland in a family of nine children. Too unfortunate for her, both her parents, Benjamin Ross and Harriet Green was enslaved. She was named Araminta Ross. Most of her siblings had been sold to slavery. (King et al.). At the same time, she was deeply religious and her beliefs gave her confidence in enslaving her family and friends. However, she remained illiterate throughout her entire life. Harriett Tubmanr's life was generally characterized by hardships. She was subjected to physical torture which caused her permanent injuries. She recounted on these scars in her entire life.
Between freedom and slavery, there seemed a huge boundary for them. Harriet was hired at the tender age of 5, as a babysitter. However, she preferred working in the plantations despite the hard activities that were there rather than being subjected to a white woman in household chores (King et al.). During her teenager age and working as a slave, she was hit with a metal object. The instance happened after a refusing to chase after a slave who had left the fields without permission. Unluckily, she obtained head injuries that gave her a real struggle with hallucinating and strange dreams throughout her tender age.

Harriet's grandmother is believed to have found a way into the United States during the transatlantic slave trade. In this case, their origin is traced to be Ghana, particularly the Ashanti tribe of West Africa. She was married in the year 1844 to John Tubman who was a black free man. Despite marrying a free man, she remained a slave and worked in the plantations for the white men (Siener and Chambers). During this period of marriage, Araminta changed her name to Harriet to honor her mother. However, the couple did not bear any children since they feared that he or she would be enslaved. As a result, they parted ways and in 1869 Harriet married a veteran named Nelson Davis with whom they adopted a child named Gertie.

A few years later, her employer passed on and in this case, her family was at the risk of being sold. To avoid this, she escaped to Philadelphia through the Underground Railroad. The railroad also facilitated the escape of thousands of slaves to different parts of North America. After the escape, she went on settled and started working as a conductor on the railroad. Later on, she returned to Maryland on several occasions where she successfully rescued her family and at least 300 slaves before the start of the civil war (King et al.). During the civil war, she served as a cook, nurse, and a teacher. Tubman also had a role in the relocation of slaves. This made her join the scouting movement in which she hunted down enemy camps. The most important task that she took part in which she accompanied Colonel James Montgomery was to raid a gunboat in South Carolina. The reason behind this target was to enable those slaves who were unlucky to escape to find their way into the Union Lines. As a result, the raid played an important role in the liberation as more slaves successfully escaped. Tubman continued with similar missions while at the same time playing her role as a nurse.

Tubmanr's later life

At the end of the civil war, she relocated to New York with her family. During this period she continued to be a necessary figure and fought against racism and women rights, she firmly stood for women suffrage and led them in the fight for allowance in the voting system. Tubman traveled to various parts of the United States to advocate for the rights of women (Larson). Despite her elderly age, Tubman still had the desire to yet fulfill another dream. She established a home for the aged. She also engaged in a long time struggle for recognition for her service during the civil war. She made use of her actions while in the civil war and worth noting is that was a speaker in The National Federation of Afro American Women during its first immediate conference.

As she aged, Tubman struggled with headaches and seizures. At the same time, her childhood trauma plagued her to an extent that she had a brain surgery. However the operation did not bear fruits and in this case, she experienced much pain to an extent that she had requested for anesthesia, or a being gunned down by a bullet. Later on, she passed on as a result of Pneumonia and was laid to rest in Auburn.

Influences that shaped Tubmanr's career, her personal life, and her family during her era

Several factors can be traced back to the time of Tubman which had might have had an impact on her lifelong passions of liberty, equality and self- determination. To start with, Tubman was born in a humble family and was subjected to slavery and torture by the white men who had employed her parents ("Timeline of the Life of Harriet Tubman: Harriet Tubman"). In her life history, we are made to believe that she was born as a slave and she could only alternate only between walking and running like her fellow thousands of slaves hoping that she would one day be free. This unbearable condition opened her mind and as a result, she figured out ways in which she could fight for freedom.

In addition, to skills for adaptation, Tubman gained a great insight in the ability to endure hardships through experience with slave owners. When hired out by Brodess, she was frequently whipped and bore these scars for her entire life. We are told that during this period she was rented to a mistress, who ordered her to perform domestic duties ("Timeline of the Life of Harriet Tubman: Harriet Tubman"). She had no experience to perform the duties and as a result, she used to be punished severely at the same time she was struck with a metal by a slave owner nearly killing her. This exposure made her learn about cruel individuals and how to endure them. This is reflected in the context when she returned to Maryland to rescue her people. Therefore encounter with slave owners impacted her personality which she later on used as a perfection in her career.

Consequently, the experience with slave owners she learned that the life of an enslaved individual was not permanent. Tubman's parents were answerable to different slave owners. Her family members kept on relocating to different places over time and the marriage system that existed during that era changed with time (Larson). As a result, she was made to appreciate the fact that life and other factors were subject to timelines. Therefore she had to be ready at all times to accommodate new relationships and conform to changes in the environment. We can assert this as we see that she was ready to settle with another partner during the civil war. This was necessary for her quickly come up with an effective resolution to a condition. This had a role to play in her career.
At the same time, during that period the United States was a capitalist state. During her slavery experience, she managed to appreciate the capitalist system. Importantly is that she could be given an opportunity to hire herself while paying a fixed annual fee to her employer in return of the favor extended to her (King et al). Familiarizing with the capitalist system made her appreciate the freedom of having capital that later impacted her goals. In addition, we are told that during the era of civil war, she could work with no pay. The absence of the knowledge of capitalism would have failed because she could not have managed to fund her goal in the liberation of African American slaves.

The Underground Railroad itself had significance in the career of Tubman. She operated as a conductor and this facilitated her ease locomote freely. This acted as a network since she could easily access other regions in Maryland (Siener, and Chambers). In this way she was able to have concepts on the situation in which the people were going through there. She effectively utilized this as a chance to spy on the southern regions in which she was able to identify the areas in which slavery was the word of the day similar to her origin. This factor played an important role in future practice. That is, we later see Tubman using the Underground Railroad to liberate the slaves.

Furthermore, the American civil war influenced the development of her career. During this period, she was a nurse, spy, and a cook at the same time. Her little contribution in the war made her known to an extent that she was offered a position to be a scout (Siener, and Chambers). Once she accepted the offer she was able to meet influential individuals from diverse backgrounds and locations. Most of them were powerful and here she learned the idea of manipulation for her to get the required intentions. Moreover, she managed to develop her communication skills which she later used in the suffrage movements and fighting for the right of women. This polished up her career.

Tubmanr's contribution in the United States

The famous activist made numerous contributions that impacted the state in a number of ways. It is necessary to understand what her biggest accomplishments were during her lifetime. Some of the contributions are expounded below. First, Harriet Tubman was unconditionally aimed at the abolition of the slave trade by all means possible. Her exposure to slavery for many years was a major contributor to this fight (Siener, and Chambers). At the same time, her experience in leading slaves along the Underground Railroad was significant and also taking into consideration that she was familiar with the land. Moreover, she recruited individuals who were formerly slaves to hunt down for rebel camps and liaise with her on the movements of the Confederate troops. Using all these techniques, she luckily managed to bring many people from slavery to freedom. This pursuit of freedom was a very important contribution.

Secondly, Harriet made an indisputable contribution during the American civil wars. In fact, she was the first woman to lead a military expedition in the history of American wars. (Larson). Moreover, she served as a cook and nurse in the Union Army. Additionally, she acted as a spy during the war. During the war, she still had the ambition to liberate slaves. As evidence, she helped out more than 700 slaves to escape torture. In addition, during her late life, she still reinvented herself where she advocated for women rights in her suffrage movements

Tubman's Controversy

One of the major controversies that Tubman was involved in is based on the liberation of the slaves through the Underground Railroad. She contradicted her statement when she was asked the manner in which she managed to enslave hundreds of African Americans via the railroad during the American civil war (Larson). Her response was self-centered and staged. She answered that she could have saved thousands of them, if only she convinced them that they were slaves. In this context, we are left in suspense wondering what her implication was. As a matter of fact, we would expect a more meaningful response. For instance, she could have mentioned the reasons why it was only possible to liberate hundreds of slaves and not thousands. This was a major controversy during her time period.

Obstacles that Tubman faced

Despite her greatest successes in her life by helping save thousands of slaves in the Underground Railroad, Harriet failed to follow any rules. Most of her missions were led by her own manipulated rules ("Timeline of the Life of Harriet Tubman: Harriet Tubman"). However many people could say that was a true inspiration. What led Tubman throughout her mission in the United States was the quote "Failure is the secret to success." Another failure that we can trace in her life, though personal, is that she did not maintain her marriage with her first husband. So unfortunate, she did not manage to give birth to children. Though the condition during that era was a little bit complicated it would have been a wise idea to sire children who could take after her and continue with her fruitful efforts.

At the same time, she advocated for capitalism which occurred and at the same time torturing the backs of the enslaved population. Through this, the rise of American power found its way to trade founded on colonialism. Europeans could buy products from slavery camps which were plantations (Coker). The increased production of cotton facilitated the continuation of the slave trade so as to meet the demand. This capital investment that made use of paper money really had a role in the continued slavery of Tubman and her people. In this case, she failed in the manner that while she was still working in the plantation she could be hired out other people and in return, she could bribe her boss. This can be seen as a betrayal to her own people.

Challenges that Tubman Faced

Tubman was challenged in helping slaves to escape without being harmed. She could try all means avoid these. During her early life, she faced physical torture from her employer. For instance, she obtained a head injury while trying to defend a slave who had left the field without permission and this condition persisted up to her later years (Coker). At the same time, she could suffer from hunger while she was young and as a result, she had to struggle with her parents to get the daily bread. Moreover while working with the white woman as a babysitter, she could be heavily beaten as she did not have any experience in domestic duties.

How Tubman faced obstacles

Tubman was a religious and devoted woman who used this as a weapon to keep her moving on every time. Another way in which she faced obstacles was by hardening herself. For instance, despite the many years in torture and slavery, she was still focused on her goal to bring slavery to an end (King et al.). Her persistence and stronghold on advocating for justice really helped her overcome the obstacles that she faced in her career. In addition, her quote Failure is the secret to success. Was also an encouragement in her life. All the above made her successfully advance on her career successfully.

Tubmanr's triumphs

Most of the successes that Tubman achieved have been seen throughout the paper. However, we will have a short recap over the same. To start with, Tubman managed to successfully free a large number of slaves who had been captured in various parts of the United States. Secondly, she was able to form troops from the ex-slaves who assisted her to liberate other slaves within a short period of time. She also owned a land which was later on donated for the needy. Nevertheless, she was involved in movements that advocated feminism and the rights of women. Also, she worked as a conductor in the Underground Railroad for 11 years. Her contribution to the civil war as a nurse and a cook at the same time cannot be neglected.


Harriet Tubman is one kind of a hero who has changed the lives of many. She is a great inspiration to the people of the United States and the whole world as a whole. She is a role model to others and itr's our moral obligation to support such leaders for a better tomorrow.

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Harriet Tubman: A Women In US History. (2019, Jun 14). Retrieved June 23, 2024 , from

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