Harriet Tubman was born a slave, managed to escape to freedom in the North, and devoted herself to helping other slaves escape via the Underground Railroad.
She helped hundreds of slaves travel northward, with many of them settling in Canada, outside the reach of American fugitive slave laws.
Tubman became well-known in abolitionist circles in the years before the Civil War. She would speak at anti-slavery meetings, and for her exploits in leading slaves out of bondage she was revered as "The Moses of Her People."
Harriet Tubman was born on the Eastern Shore of Maryland about 1820 (like most slaves, she only had a vague idea of her own birthday). She was originally named Araminta Ross, and was called Minty.
As was customary where she lived, young Minty was hired out as a worker and would be charged with minding younger children of white families. When she was older she worked as a field slave, performing arduous outdoor which included collecting lumber and driving wagons of grain to the Chesapeake Bay wharves.
Minty Ross married John Tubman in 1844, and at some point, she began using her mother"s first name, Harriet.
Tubman"s Unique Skills
Harriet Tubman received no education and remained illiterate throughout her life. She did, however, gain considerable knowledge of the Bible through oral recitation, and she would often refer to Biblical passages and parables.
From her years of hard work as a field slave, she became physically strong.
And she learned skills such as woodcraft and herbal medicine that would be very useful in her later work.
The years of manual labor made her look much older than her actual age, something she would use to her advantage while going undercover in slave territory.
In her youth, Tubman had been severely injured when a white master threw a lead weight at another slave and struck her in the head.
For the rest of her life, she would suffer narcoleptic seizures, occasionally lapsing into a coma-like state.
Because of her odd affliction, people sometimes ascribed mystical powers to