About The Double-Daring Book for Girls
Stories from the Underground Railroad: Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross around 1820. She was a slave to the Brodas family of Dorchester County, on Maryland’s eastern shore. When she was six, she was hired out to work as a house slave and a nursemaid. Later, she would work the fields. In her twenties she met and married John Tubman, who was a free black man. She took his last name and took her mother’s name, Harriet, and that’s how she became Harriet Tubman.
In 1849, Harriet started hearing rumors that she and other slaves on the Brodas plantation were to be sold. Fearing her life would turn worse than it was, she decided to run away. She was helped by a friend, a white woman who guided Harriet to the Quakers in neighboring Caroline County, and that’s where her journey on the Underground Railroad began. It would take Harriet many stations and many nights spent walking to reach freedom.
To move north, Harriet used the knowledge that enslaved people passed to one another about how to follow Polaris, the North Star. Polaris is always in the north, and in the Northern Hemisphere, the Big Dipper is always in the sky. The two stars on the pouring edge of the Big Dipper point straight ahead to the North Star.
Night after night, Harriet followed the North Star through Delaware and into Pennsylvania. She made it to Philadelphia in seven weeks, and the Quakers there helped her to find work.
The next year, Harriet would return on the sly to Maryland. She ferried her children and her sister out of slavery. Her husband, John, was already a free man, and he decided to stay (he would later remarry). Harriet continued to return. She rescued her brothers and their friends, her niece, and many others. Before long, slave owners were offering a $40,000 reward for Harriet’s capture. That didn’t stop her. It just made her smarter and more wary and clever. All told, Harriet made nineteen trips and conducted more than three hundred people along the Underground Railroad. Some people called her Moses, after the biblical figure who led the Israelite slaves to freedom. Other people called her “the General.”