They called her Moses. It was an apt nickname. In the years before the Civil War, Harriet Tubman led more than 300 slaves including her parents to freedom along the Underground Railroad.
She was born into slavery in Maryland. The year was 1820. She was one of eleven children of Harriet and Benjamin Ross. At an early age she showed a rebellious spirit and dreamed of freedom.
When she was fifteen, she blocked a doorway to prevent an overseer from catching a fleeing slave. Enraged, the overseer picked up a heavy metal weight and threw it at the runaway. Instead, he hit Harriet in the head. She was unconscious for days. For the rest of her life, she had a rough scar on her forehead and suffered from seizures.
In 1844, she married John Tubman. She began to plan an escape to the North to freedom, but John would have no part of it. She fled without him in 1850. She traveled by night through swamps and streams so dogs could not track her scent.
She had heard of safe houses where runaway slaves would be fed and sheltered. They were part of a movement called the Underground Railroad. With the help from this system, Harriet made it to Philadelphia. A year later she made the first of many trips back to Maryland. Each trip, she guided other slaves along the Underground Railroad.
During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman worked as a spy, a cook, and a nurse. She did anything she could to help the Union cause. After the war, she settled in New York. She founded a home for sick, poor, and homeless blacks. She lived there herself until her death in 1913.