- Wilma Peebles-WilkinsWilma Peebles-WilkinsBoston University, Emerita
Harriet Tubman (1820–1913) escaped bondage in 1849 and fled to Philadelphia. Known as the Moses of Black people for her leadership in the Underground Railroad movement, she is thought to have rescued up to 300 slaves before the Civil War.
Harriet Tubman became known as the Moses of Black people for her leadership in the Underground Railroad movement. Born a slave in Dorchester County, Maryland, she was given the name Araminta Ross. She later took her mother's first name, Harriet. Escaping from bondage in 1849, Tubman fled to Philadelphia. She returned to Maryland some 19 times to rescue her family and the other slaves she had left behind and is thought to have rescued as many as 300 slaves before the Civil War. She worked with such individuals as the Quaker Thomas Garrett and the Black Philadelphia leader William Still. During the Civil War, Tubman served three years as a cook, nurse, spy, and scout. After the war, she set up the Harriet Tubman Home for Indigent Aged Negroes. After years of struggling with red tape, Tubman was given a $20 per-month government pension for her military service, which she used to help support her Harriet Tubman Home. Near the end of her life, she supported education for freedmen in the South and women's suffrage. Tubman was also involved in the organization of the National Federation of Afro-American Women. See Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People (1886), by S. H. Bradford; Harriet Tubman: Negro Soldier and Abolitionist (1943), by E. Conrad; Harriet Tubman (1955), by A. Petry; and Freedom Train, The Story of Harriet Tubman (1954), by D. Sterling.