Many slaves tried to escape from the South to the freedom that awaited them in the North. One woman who made it to the North, however, repeatedly risked her precious freedom and returned to the South to smuggle out hundreds of slaves. To rid themselves of this thorn in their sides, the slave owners offered a huge reward–forty thousand dollars for her capture! But they never captured Harriet Tubman.
Harriet Tubman was born into slavery on a Maryland plantation in the eighteen twenties. Hired out as a nursemaid at the age of seven, she was beaten every time the baby cried. Finally, she ran away from the plantation, but she was captured and returned to it, only to be treated worse than before.
Although she was barely five feet tall, Harriet Tubman was hired out to load wood, split rails, and do other kinds of tough physical work. Then she worked with her father, Ben, a powerful man who was at home with nature and the land. Ben taught Harriet the art of survival. Soon she could detect which berries were edible and which were poisonous. She could walk through the forest without making a sound. Harriet Tubman was ready to apply her knowledge of the outdoors to reach her goal.
When Harriet Tubman discovered that she was to be sold, she knew the time had come. She must escape. One night, with little more than the clothes she wore, she slipped off into the dark, traveling in shadows and resting in hiding places that she found along the way.
Harriet Tubman finally was free, but she was not content. This selfless woman would not be satisfied until every slave was freed. She led out members of her own family, then anyone who had the courage to make the trip. Harriet risked her own life to help free others. After nineteen trips into the South, she had led hundreds of slaves to freedom. She became a legend of the Underground Railroad.
But her life’s work had not yet ended. During the Civil War, the sick, hungry, and wounded fugitive slaves were housed on the islands off the coast of South Carolina. Harriet Tubman, of course, was there to help nurse them to health. She even served as a scout for the Union Army and joined Union soldiers on their raids. Having risked her life so many times, it was amazing that this brave woman lived to be over ninety.