Tragedy and Triumph: Harriet Tubman’s Journey from Bondage to Liberation

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Introduction: Journey of Hope on the Underground Railroad

A group of slaves travel through the forest alone, led by one of the most important black women to ever be on this planet, who are wanted dead or alive by slave catchers. They are traveling along the underground railroad and are looking for secret codes the woman has told them about in order to know if they are safe. This woman had been treated poorly all her life, such as when she was rented out as a child like an object, hit on the head with a brick while trying to save a slave’s life, separated from most of her family, punished with a whip for mediocre reasons, etc. Through all this tragedy, she kept her spirit and faith up and helped hundreds out of slavery. This woman is none other than the great Harriet Tubman.

The Ashanti Legacy

Harriet Tubman believed herself to be descended from the Ashanti, an African tribe of warriors that had successfully fought the British. Her grandmother, Modesty, gave birth to her mother, Harriet Green, who married Benjamin Ross. Because no one recorded the births of slaves, historians believe Harriet had 8 to 11 siblings. At first, her name was Araminta, but then she changed it to Harriet after her mother. Her descendant today, Maya Hawkins-Bailey, who admires Harriet, says, “…she went back for others…I consider her my hero.”

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Trials of Childhood

Even at the age of 6, Harriet was rented out to other homes, such as a family called the Cooks. It was at these homes that she had small eating portions and occasionally shared meals with the dog. For any small mishap, she would be whipped by her master and sent to work in the fields with no shoes. “There were good masters and mistresses…” Harriet states, “I didn’t happen to come across any of them.” She would sleep on the kitchen floor, and when she got sick from the cold, she would be accused of faking it to get out of work.

The Impact of a Blow

When Harriet was only 15, a guard hit her in the head with a brick while aiming for an escaping slave Harriet knew named Will. Afterward, she had a dent in her head and suffered from sleeping fits for years. These sleeping fits caused her to spontaneously fall asleep in the middle of what she was doing three to four times a day. Nothing and no one on the plantation could wake her up from this. Her master tried to sell her, but no one would buy her for even the smallest amount. Thankfully, her sleeping fits did get better with time and eventually went away.

Harriet had a very strong religious faith in God even though she went through so much, and most of her childhood was a nightmare. She would always sing religious songs in the fields, which the other slaves enjoyed gladly. She would pray for her master to see his wrongdoings and let her and everyone else go. After a while, she got impatient and prayed for the lord to get rid of him. He soon after died from an illness. Harriet blamed herself for this and was such a good person she would have given anything, even herself, to save his life and take off her guilt.

Ever since Harriet was little, she believed she had rights, which automatically made her different from most slaves. She first heard about the underground railroad when she was eleven years old and first saw a man try to escape when she was only thirteen. She escaped in 1849 when she was twenty-nine and was never captured while helping others do the same. After that, she helped seventy others escape and led a raid that freed hundreds, so slave catchers put a twelve thousand dollar reward on her. She was called Moses because, like him, she led enslaved people into the “promised land.”

In order to escape and help others do the same, she had to use codes and signals. When sending coded letters to her four brothers, they had to pretend they couldn’t read so the master wouldn’t get suspicious. In these letters, she would describe a boat named Zion when referencing the land of freedom. When escaping, they used colored lights and the song “Go Down Moses” to signal if it was safe or not and used noise to distract guards. She even occasionally dressed in disguises such as a clumsy old lady.

In her 20s, Harriet married a man named John Tubman, who, unlike Harriet, had no interest in listening to talk about freedom. With this man, she had two kids. When she was older, she discovered she and her mother were actually supposed to be let free once her mother turned forty-five, but no judge would have taken their case anyway. She died on March 10, 1913, leaving a legacy people will remember for thousands of years.

Conclusion: A Legacy of Courage and Compassion

Harriet Tubman fought for what she believed to be right and died, having known that she helped free more than one hundred slaves. She suffered through a bad childhood but took her bad experiences and chose to help others going through the same thing. She led others along the underground railroad, upon which she used codes to hide secrets and know if they were safe. She always kept her head up and used religion to help her get through bad times. She is an inspiration to everyone, and her story proves that if you see something as wrong, you should stand up against it.

Reference:

  1. Ashanti Tribe. (n.d.). African Warriors – The Ashanti Tribe. African Tribe Facts. https://african-tribe.co.za/ashanti/
  2. Hawkins-Bailey, M. (Personal communication, [Date]). Descendant Perspective.
  3. Larson, K. (2004). Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero. Ballantine Books.
  4. Clinton, C., & Okenwa, L. (Eds.). (2017). Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom and the Courage to Act. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  5. Lowry, L. S. (2008). Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life. Anchor.
  6. Humez, J. M. (2018). Harriet Tubman: The Life and the Life Stories. University of Wisconsin Press.
  7. Tubman, H., & Bradford, S. H. (1869). Harriet, The Moses of Her People. Geo. R. Lockwood & Son.
  8. National Park Service. (n.d.). Harriet Tubman Biography. Underground Railroad. https://www.nps.gov/people/harriet-tubman.htm

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Tragedy and Triumph: Harriet Tubman's Journey from Bondage to Liberation. (2023, Aug 30). Retrieved from https://edusson.com/examples/tragedy-and-triumph-harriet-tubman-s-journey-from-bondage-to-liberation

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