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Who helped Harriet Tubman escape from slavery today?

September 17th

600px-Harriet_Tubman_Reward_Notice_1849September 17, 1849 — Harriet Tubman escaped slavery today in Maryland, thanks to the help of two of her brothers, Ben and Henry.

Tubman had been hired out to Dr. Anthony Thompson, who owned a large plantation in an area called Poplar Neck in neighboring Caroline County. Historians believe her brothers labored for Thompson as well. And because the slaves were hired out to another household, Eliza Brodess probably did not recognize their absence as an escape attempt for some time.

Two weeks later, she posted a runaway notice in the Cambridge Democrat, offering a reward of up to $100 dollars for each slave returned. Once they had left, Tubman’s brothers had second thoughts. Ben may have just become a father. The two men went back, forcing Tubman to return with them.

Soon afterward, Tubman escaped again, this time without her brothers. Beforehand, she tried to send word to her mother of her plans. She sang a coded song to Mary, a trusted fellow slave, that was a farewell. “I’ll meet you in the morning,” she intoned, “I’m bound for the promised land.” While her exact route is unknown, Tubman made use of the network known as the Underground Railroad.

Born Araminta Ross in 1822 (she died March 10, 1913), Tubman is the famous African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and, during the American Civil War, a Union spy. She was beaten and whipped by her various masters as a child, early in life, she suffered a traumatic head wound when an irate slave owner threw a heavy metal weight intending to hit another slave and hit her instead. The injury caused dizziness, pain, and spells of hypersomnia, which occurred throughout her life.

She was a devout Christian and experienced strange visions and vivid dreams, which she ascribed to premonitions from God.

Words of Wisdom

I prayed all night long for my master till the first of March; and all the time he was bringing people to look at me, and trying to sell me. First of March I began to pray, 'Oh Lord, if you ain't never going to change that man's heart, kill him, Lord, and take him out of the way.

— Harriet Tubman

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