Harriet Tubman (1822-1913)

Retrieved from: http://www.wateristheway.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/tubmancoverphoto5.jpg

The Underground Railroad:
The Underground Railroad is known for saving the lives of what is believed to be thousands of African American slaves. This famous system of escape is known to have started in the 1500's, and was active into the late 1800's. Being neither underground nor a railroad, as the name states, it was a collection of safe houses, transportation methods, and escape routes which the slaves used, with help from Abolitionists, to seek freedom in Canada, Mexico or even the Caribbean. The Underground Railroad was a commitment to save the lives of innocent people who had been oppressed due to their ethnicity. This commitment involved breaking laws and risking one's own life in order to remain true to personal moral values.
(Ontario Black History Society, n.d.)

Family and Marriage:

Harriet Tubman was the fifth of nine children born to Rit Green Ross and Ben Ross in 1822 on Anthony Thompson's plantation in Dorchester County (Larson, 2004). Anthony Thompson was Edward Brodess' step-father and the owner of Harriet's father Ben Ross. Edward Brodess owned a plantation that some of Harriet’s brothers and sisters worked on. Harriet was originally named Araminta (Minty) Ross, but later changed it to Harriet. Her brothers and sisters were: Linah, born 1808; Mariah Ritty, born 1811; Soph, born 1813, Robert, born 1816; Ben, born 1823 or 1824; Rachel, born 1825; Henry, born 1830; and Moses in 1832 (Larson, 2004). In 1844 she married a free black named John Tubman. Harriet fled to freedom in Canada on the UGRR in 1949. In 1954 she came back to Maryland to bring her family to Canada, her brothers changed their “Ross” surname to "Stewart”. Because of this name change it made it difficult to trace each brother’s life. Robert Ross became John Stewart, Ben Ross became James Stewart, and Henry Ross became William Henry Stewart (Larson, 2004). Harriet’s youngest brother Moses Ross was never mentioned again after he escaped on the UGRR in 1851. Harriet’s last surviving sister Rachel, died in 1859 before she could be rescued. Harriet and her family settled in Auburn, New York (Larson, 2004).

(above: Harriet Tubman with family and friends, standing by the side of her barn in Auburn, New York, circa 1887. Left to right: Harriet Tubman, adopted daughter Gertie Davis, husband Nelson Davis, great-great-niece Lee Cheney, "Pop" Alexander, Walter Green, "Blind Aunty" Sarah Parker, great-niece Dora Stewart.)

Life During the Civil War and Military Involvement:
Harriet Tubman was not only famous for being an African American "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, but she was also responsible for freeing hundreds of slaves during the civil war. The former slave served as a spy for the Union during the Civil War and was the first woman in American history to lead a military expedition. (Fox, n.d.)

Harriet Tubman died on March 10 1913, in the town of Auburn where she lived following the Civil War. She died of pneumonia and was buried in Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn. She was at the age of ninety three and placed on her grave were numerous military hours. Since her death Tubman continues to receive awards and honours including the naming of the Liberty Ship Harriet Tubman. There has since been a civic holiday declared in her honour and she continues to be a well-known and well-respected American icon. Tubman continues to be this well respected individual because she saved the lives of numerous individuals. Her courage and strength helped her accomplish her duties and because of this is a very popular African American female.

· Freed hundreds of African American slaves.
· First woman in American history to lead a military expedition.
· Conquered all of these accomplishments despite a personal disability.
· Helped abolish slavery and gave African Americans rights.
· Created her own nursing center for the aged and poor.

Significance to Nursing:
Harriet Tubman created a nursing home called The Harriet Tubman Home of the Aged. She built the nursing home solely for the sake of helping others- particularly the aged and the poor. She ironically enough died in this nursing home from an extreme case of pneumonia. Tubman evidently cared about the health of individuals by creating this nursing home and because of this she once again helped prolong the lives of many people. Tubman saved the lives of many people during the Civil war, which may help inspire health care professions to be as brave and courageous as Tubman. Her goal was to save the lives of the slaves and as nurses this is what we expect to accomplish on a daily basis. She is an inspiring individual and by creating the nursing home she created new ideas of health care and its accessibility.

Explore the Underground Railroad for yourself !

Larson, K. (2004). Bound for the promised land (web page), Retrieved from http://www.harriettubmanbiography.com/index.html
Fox, C. (n.d.). Harriet tubman: civil war spy. Retrieved from http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/Stories/PeoplePlaces/Harriettubman
Harriet Tubman [Online Image]/ (2004). Retrieved December 8, 2009, from
Harriet Tubman Family and Friends - Auburn New York [Online Image]/ (n.d.). Retrieved December 7, 2009, from harriettubmanbiography.com.
Ontario Black History Society. (n.d.).
The underground railroad. Retrieved from http://www.blackhistorysociety.ca/URR.htm
Wanted Poster [Online Image]/ (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2009, from