African-American Cultural & Genealogical Society Of Illinois, Inc. Museum

Harriet Tubman was born as a slave in March of 1822. In her early life, Harriet received many beatings and whippings by her slave masters. Once a slave overseer threw a heavy weight at another slave and missed. The weight hit Harriet and caused a head wound. This wound caused her to have dizziness and pain for the rest of her life. An additional result of the injury was having spells of hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness).

It was after the injury that Harriet began to have dreams and visions. She attributed these as premonitions from God. Harriet Tubman was a highly religious abolitionist. She escaped to freedom in 1849. Once free, she returned to rescue her family and then continued to lead one group at a time to freedom. She made thirteen trips or missions to rescue approximately 70 slaves. These trips were made possible using a network of people and places which was known as the Underground Railroad.

The journey to freedom was made in the night and was a very secret endeavor. She soon gained the nickname of “Moses” as she led her people to freedom. No passengers on Harriet’s journeys were ever lost. She was even instrumental in helping the newly freed people to find work.

She also served as a cook, nurse, scout and spy for the Union Army during the Civil War. After the war, she settled in Auburn, New York where she cared for her parents. She was also active in the women’s suffrage movement. She continued working until she became ill. Her courage, strength, and determination will always be a beacon of hope and inspiration. Harriet Tubman died on March10, 1913.