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Harriet Tubman Biography: From Slavery to Freedom

While Harriet Tubman (about 1820 - March 10, 1913) remains one of historys best-known African Americans, until recently there have been few biographies of her written for adults. Because her life is inspiring, there are appropriately many childrens stories about Tubman, but these tend to stress her early life, her own escape from slavery, and her work with the Underground Railroad.

Less well known and neglected by many historians are her Civil War service and her activities in the nearly 50 years she lived after the Civil War ended.

In this article, youll find details about Harriet Tubmans life in slavery and her work as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, but youll also find information about Tubmans later and less-known work and life. For the basics on Tubman, see Harriet Tubman Facts

Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in Dorchester County on the Eastern shore of Maryland, in 1820 or 1821, on the plantation of Edward Brodas or Brodess. Her birth name was Araminta, and she was called Minty until she changed her name to Harriet - after her mother - in her early teen years. Her parents, Benjamin Ross and Harriet Green, were enslaved Ashanti Africans who had eleven children, and saw many of the older children sold into the Deep South.

At five years old, Araminta was rented to neighbors to do housework. She was never very good at household chores, and was beaten regularly by her owners and those who rented her.

She was, of course, not educated to read or write. She eventually was assigned work as a field hand, which she preferred to household work. Although she was a small woman, she was strong, and her time working in the fields probably contributed to her strength.

At age fifteen she sustained a head injury, when she deliberately blocked the path of the overseer pursuing an uncooperative fellow slave, and was hit by the heavy weight the overseer tried to fling at the other slave.

Harriet, who probably sustained a severe concussion, was ill for a long time following this injury, and never

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