Historical

Republicans in History: Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was a gun-toting former slave who worked as a spy and scout for the Union Army during the Civil War.  Her most remarkable accomplishment was her skill at successfully leading others out of slavery through the Underground Railroad. And what many people don’t know about Harriet Tubman is that she was a Republican. While this should come as no surprise, being that Republicans freed the slaves, the modern media narrative would have many think otherwise.

She was born Araminta Ross in Dorchester County, Maryland, one of nine children to slave parents owned by neighboring plantation owners.  She was profoundly affected by the sale of three of her sisters which forever separated the family.  She endured the beatings and abuse common to slave children at the time.  She suffered a severe head injury as a child from a weight thrown by a slave owner at another slave, which hit her in the head.  As a result, she experienced epileptic seizures, headaches, and bizarre dream states for the remainder of her life.

Araminta ran away for the first time when she was 27 with her two brothers.  She was frequently hired out to other plantations, so she had vanished for two weeks before her owner realized that she was gone.  Her brothers became scared and decided to return.  She was forced to return to the plantation with them.  Two years later, she fell ill and her owner decided to try to sell her.  Irate, she continually prayed for him to change his ways.   After seeing that this was not to happen, as he continued to bring people to buy her, she prayed that God would remove him from her path.  He died a week later.

“There was one of two things I had a right to,” she explained later, “liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.” When she had married freeman John Tubman five years prior, she had changed her name to Harriet Tubman.  She sent a message to her mother through a coded song sung by a trusted fellow slave telling her “I’ll meet you in the morning.  I’m bound for the Promised Land”.

Harriet made her way to Pennsylvania.  She worked simple jobs to save money for other trips to bring family members and friends to freedom. In all, she made about 19 trips to bring slaves to the North.  In 1850, the trip became more perilous with the Fugitive Slave Act which forced captured slaves in the North to be returned to their owners in the South.  She then rerouted the Underground Railroad to Canada, which had categorically outlawed slavery.  She was proud of the fact that through all of her trips, she never lost a “passenger”.

During the Civil War, she worked as an armed scout and spy for the Union Army as she blended easily with the local population and was familiar with covert travel and subterfuge among enemies. Her intelligence helped with the capture of Jacksonville, Florida.  She was also the first woman to lead an armed assault during the Civil War.

Two things sustained her:  her gun at her side for self-defense and her faith.  She was not afraid to use her gun when needed and she encouraged the slaves she led to freedom to embrace the Old Testament.  She was buried with semi-military honors at Fort Hill, Auburn, New York.

Photo via History.com