Harriet Tubman: An Influential Woman In History Presentation by Katelyn Fong

1849

Your back aches, and your owner says you can’t take a break. You get whipped and punched if you do something wrong. You have no pay — maybe a little if you’re lucky — and you have to do all of these things just because of your skin color. This is what it was like to be a slave in the mid-1800s. Many of these slaves were saved by a single woman named Harriet Tubman. She was known for leading hundreds of slaves in Maryland north to Pennsylvania, and eventually to Canada. She had many factors to her personality. For example, she was a rebellious, determined, and clever woman.

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was born at around 1820. She was born with the name Araminta Ross, and was referred to as Minty. She lived in a time where the country’s thoughts about slavery were divided — the south allowing, and the north disagreeing. Unfortunately, she lived in Maryland, a place of slavery. Since her mother was a slave, she had to start the brutal work at a very young age. Because of this, she realized how unfair slavery was at an early age. She had dreams of white woman leading her to freedom in the north. As she grew older, she hated being told what to do and having very little pay. She started questioning the quest for freedom, but held back. The chances of surviving the travel to Pennsylvania by foot were slim, but the outcome of doing so was worth it. So, in 1849, Harriet began her journey north.

Day after day, she travelled along the “Underground Railroad”, a system of homes and places that slaves on the quest for freedom could stop at for help. About a year later, she reached Pennsylvania. She soon realized that even though she was free, she was lonely and had no one with her. So she turned back around and headed down south, determined to free other slaves, too. She started by attempting to save her family, although most of them were married and had families in the south, so she moved on to leading every slave to freedom. Soon, hundreds of slaves went missing, all thanks to Harriet. They started calling her “Moses” after the story of the hero Moses who saved Jewish slaves from the rule of ancient Egypt. In the end, she was a hero who had helped free hundreds of slaves. She lived a long and eventful life, and ended up dying in 1913, at around the age of ninety-two.

Rebellious

During her life, Harriet Tubman was rebellious. This is reflected mainly in her youth. She often did what she wasn’t supposed to, even when she knew not to. For example, once, when she was only a child, she saw a bowl full of lumps of sugar on the table. Thinking her owner, or mistress, wouldn’t notice, she reached her fingers in and took some for herself. Sadly, her mistress did notice, and was about to start beating her up for it. Harriet was afraid, and sprinted as fast as she could out of the house. Eventually, though, she realized that she couldn’t survive on her own without food and shelter, so she returned to her mistress’s house about four days later (15-16).

This uncovers her rebellious side by showing how sometimes she can refuse to do what is expected of her, or in other words, rebel. Harriet could do so without feeling much remorse, which came helpful in her later life. When she ended up running away from slavery, she didn’t feel guilty of doing so. This meant that on the journey north, Harriet wouldn’t question her actions too harshly and wouldn’t stop to think about them. This helped her keep a clear mind, meaning if there were dangers nearby, she could react quickly and avoid getting injured or found.

Slave workers farming in a field

Determined

Another trait that helped Harriet as she got older was determination. If you want to do something, you have to be determined to do it. Harriet was extremely determined to save the lives of slaves. Once, while talking about slaves, she said “I had seen their tears and sighs, and I had heard their groans, and I would give every drop of blood in my veins to free them. I was free, and they should be free also; I would make a home for them in the North, and the Lord helping me, I would bring them all there” (49). After saying this, Harriet risks herself by heading back south to free other slaves. As she frees more and more slaves, the trips become more and more dangerous as her worth goes up, but she still pushes forward. These risks fuel her determination, because she is willing to put her ambitions above her own life.

Clever

Harriet was also very clever. She had to be able to outsmart slave-catchers on her multiple journeys north. For example, one trick Harriet used multiple times was a disguise. Slave-catchers didn’t know her name, and they called her by the name slaves used for her — “Moses”. In articles, they said that slaves were being rescued by a young man named Moses. Instead of ignoring this misunderstood title, Harriet used it to her advantage. Many times she dressed up as an old woman, wrapping a shawl around her face and hunching over using a cane. Sometimes, this disguise became really helpful. Once, Harriet had to pass by her old owner. Afraid she would be caught, she pulled a cloth over her face, and was ignored. (66-71). Harriet chose to use the mistake to her advantage, rather than pushing it away. If she ignored it, she wouldn’t have been as clever. Her thoughtful thinking and planning illustrates her cleverness.

In the run for freedom, Harriet Tubman had to be

rebellious, determined, and clever. In order to turn against society, she had to be rebellious. If she wanted to survive, she had to push forward with determination. To escape from security, she had to be clever and think quickly. Because of these traits, Harriet Tubman was able to save the lives of hundreds of slaves. She ended up being one of the most important figures in the history of America.

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

Bently, Judith. Harriet Tubman. South New York: Franklin Watts, Inc. Print.

Created By
Katelyn Fong
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