Harriet Tubman (1822-1913) - abolitionist | activist | union spy

Photo credit: Library of Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in 1822. Despite a severe brain injury that caused seizures and narcolepsy, Tubman escaped to freedom in 1849 and later made 13 more rescue missions to free 70 more slaves. Tubman was the first woman to lead an armed assault in the Civil War, a mission that freed over 750 slaves in South Carolina. Even though she served as a Union scout, nurse, cook and spy in the Civil War, she never received a regular salary and was denied veteran’s compensation for 34 years. In later years, Tubman was an activist in the women’s suffrage movement. 


"I had reasoned this out in my mind; there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death: if I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man should take alive, of freedom, keep going." 

"If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there's shouting after you, keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going."  

"I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can't say - I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger." 


Bradford, S.H. (1886). Harriet, The Moses of Her People: A Biography of Harriet Tubman. 

Larson, K.C. (2004). Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman: Portrait of An American Hero. 

Clinton, C. (2005). Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom. 






Sheron Smith - Artist Statement

Even though she suffered head injury and seizures from abuse, Harriet Tubman risked her own freedom to help others escape the scourge of slavery.   Harriet Tubman has many other accomplishments that should be noted.  After the Civil War broke out in 1861, she served as a nurse and cook for three years.  As a scout and spy she made trips into Confederate territory.  Tubman provided intelligence that aided Colonel James Montgomery in the capture of Jacksonville, Florida.  In 1863 Harriet Tubman guided the Union Army in the Combahee River Raid, which liberated 750 slaves.  Harriet Tubman also became a strong voice for women's suffrage.  In 1859 she established The Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged, a home for aged and indigent colored people in Auburn, NY. In 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department announced a plan for Tubman to replace Andrew Jackson as the portrait on the $20 bill.  Harriet Tubman is an American icon. 

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"Harriet Tubman"

Women Who Walked on Water

Joy Zimmerman

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Women Who Walked on Water (3:21) – mid-tempo with soulful vocals, rhythmic guitars, and lilting fiddle. A song of tribute to seventeen courageous women who changed the world.

Music & Lyrics by Joy Zimmerman

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