Born into slavery in 1820 in Bucktown on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Reared in slavery, she married a free black, John Tubman, in 1844. He opposed her plans to flee north, so she escaped alone via the Underground Railroad in 1849, and over the next decade she led nearly 300 Maryland slaves to safety, including several siblings and her elderly parents.
Originally named Araminta, or “Minty”, known as “the Moses of her people,” Harriet Tubman was devoutly religious and a believer in decisive action. She helped John Brown organize his 1859 raid on Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, but was prevented by illness from accompanying him. During the Civil War she repeatedly went behind enemy lines to spy for the Union, and recruit slaves to fight in the army.
In her later years, living in Auburn, New York, she helped support relatives and other former slaves, and raised money for freedmen’s schools and a home for elderly blacks.