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Harriet Tubman

"You'll be free or die!"
-Harriet Tubman's motto when a runaway had second thoughts about escaping a life of slavery (Harriet would point a gun at the questioning runaway while saying this to prove her point)

Harriet Tubman was born a slave in Pucktown, Maryland, one of eleven children. Starting at the age of five, Harriet was beaten repeatedly in order to break her strong spirit, and when she was thirteen, she received a fractured skull when trying to defend a slave from his/her cruel master. So, when Harriet was in her teens, she tried to escape the horrors of slavery with her brothers. However, their mission to escape was foiled and they were returned to their masters.

During the summer of 1849, Harriet traded her prize quilt for Underground Railroad information and soon after, she escaped. She had no plan or destination, but she did know to follow the North Star called the "Drinking Gourd" because of a directional Underground Railroad song. Finally, she arrived in Philadelphia, but she soon found that her freedom alone was not enough.

From 1850 until the Civil War, Harriet helped over 300 fugitive slaves escape with the help of Thomas Garrett and others. Many of them she brought to St. Catherine, Canada, where they would be safe. At one point, there was as much as a $40,000 reward for her, the most ever offered. Yet still Harriet was not captured.

During the Civil War, Harriet was a nurse, a spy, and a scout, and Thomas Garrett, her partner for many of the trips, died in 1871. Harriet joined Thomas Garrett in death in 1913. Her birth year hasn't been exactly determined, so it isn't known how old she was when she died. But, it has been determined she was born between 1816 and 1823. Harriet Tubman was the "Moses of her people". She deserves that name because of her epic, heroic expeditions leading fugitive slaves to the promised land where they would be safe.

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