30 Facts about Harriet ‘Moses' Tubman

1. Harriet Ross was born into slavery in 1819 or 1822, in Dorchester County, Maryland.

2. Harriet Tubman’s birth name was Araminta Ross and her nick name was Minty.

3. Harriet Tubman’s mother’s name was Harriet Green and Harriet Tubman’s father’s name was Benjamin Ross.

4. Harriet Tubman was married to John Tubman when she was about 24 years old. John was a free black man.

5. Harriet Tubman was a disabled person. She had Narcolepsy or sleeping spells. She could fall asleep any time and any place. This was caused by a severe blow to the head by a 2-pound iron weight thrown at another enslaved African, but it hit Harriet in the head when she was about 12 years old.

6. Harriet believed that her hair, which “had never been combed and…stood out like a bushel basket” might have saved her life.

7. After this accident, she started getting dreams. A devout Christian, she strongly believed her dreams to be indications from God.

8. In 1844, she married John Tubman, a free African American.

9. Harriet Tubman never had any children.

10. Harriet Tubman freed herself in 1851 using the system known as the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses used by enslaved Africans to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause.

11. When Harriet Tubman found out that she had crossed the Mason Dixon Line and she was free, she said, ” I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person now that I was free, there was such glory over everything, the sun came up like gold through the threes, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in heaven.”

12. After freeing herself from enslavement, in Harriet Tubman returned to Maryland to rescue other members of her family.

13. If you were an enslaved person and you would like to escape, someone would sing ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ as a signal and you would be smuggled that night to different safehouses until you reached the North or Canada where you would achieve your freedom.

14. With Thomas Garrett, the well known Quaker abolitionists of Wilmington, Deleware, she aided in liberating over 3,000 enslaved Africans.

15. Harriet Tubman was known as the Moses of her people. ‘Go Down Moses’ is a song she used to communicate her coming and going.

16. In all, Harriet is believed to have conducted approximately 300 people to freedom in the North Canadian territory over a 15 year period.

17. The tales of her exploits reveal her highly spiritual nature, as well as a grim determination to protect her charges and those who aided them. She always expressed confidence that God would aid her efforts, and threatened to shoot any of her passengers who thought to turn back.

18. Harriet Tubman’s husband dies during the Civil War. Harriet later marries Nelson Davis

19. After the outbreak of the Civil War, Harriet Tubman became a soldier, spy and a nurse.

20. Harriet was successful as a nurse due to her ability to cure men of dysentery by means of native herbs.

21. She was the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war. She guided the Combahee River Raid, consisting of 300 free African soldiers on 3 gun boats to liberate more than 700 enslaved Africans in South Carolina.

22. Despite this she was later denied payment for her wartime service. Harriet Tubman fought for a military pension, but was only able to win a widow’s pension of $20 a month on account of her second husband’s service.

23. After the war ended, Harriet Tubman helped a biographer publish her life story.

24. Harriet Tubman was a dynamic public speaker and storyteller. 

25. In her later years, Tubman worked to promote the cause of women’s suffrage. Tubman travelled to New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C. to speak out in favour of women’s voting rights. When the National Federation of Afro-American Women was founded in 1896, Tubman was the keynote speaker at its first meeting.

26. Harriet Tubman helped to organise the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church 

27. At some point in the late 1890s, she underwent brain surgery at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital as she was unable to sleep because of pains and “buzzing” in her head. She refused to be given anaesthesia. Instead she chewed a bullet during her surgery. She had seen the Civil War soldiers do this when their limbs had to be amputated.

28. Harriet Tubman spent her last years in a home called the ‘Harriet Tubman Home for Aged and Indigent Negro’ which she established in Auburn New York.

29. She died on 10 March 1913 after suffering from pneumonia.

30. After her death, Harriet Tubman was buried in Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn with military honors.

Harriet Tubman devoted her life towards the abolition of slavery. She is an inspiration to many for her relentless struggle for equality and civil rights. She is one of the most notable figures in the history.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman