In the 19th century, there were many issues in America which needed to be addressed. Some people stood up for what they believed needed to be done to reform the country. Prominent examples of these radicals are Harriet Tubman and Dorothea Dix. Tubman fought to abolish slavery while Dix fought for better treatment of the mentally ill. These two individuals had a significant impact on American life.
Harriet Tubman was born between 1819 or 1821in Dorchester County, Maryland. At the time, slavery was a well-established institution in the South. Slavery was present in America since the 16th century. It was the practice of bringing Africans to the Americas because they were a cheaper and more convenient labor source than indentured servants. The lives of the slaves were marked by cruel and harsh conditions from the moment they were captured. The Triangular Trade, which was a trading process that involved the trade of alcohol, slaves and other goods, was a nightmare for the enslaved people. Africans were captured, branded, and tossed into ships, where they stood, packed, like sadines in a can. After the terrible journey, slaves were auctioned and sold to work in plantations and houses. The terrible treatment didn't stop there. Slaves were regularly abused, because they weren't thought of as people. They were property. The slaves' were deprived of basic human rights such as freedom and humane treatment.
Tubman experienced all of these hardships in her life, as she was born into slavery. She was beaten and mistreated ever since she was a child. At the age of twelve, she was struck by a blow to the head by a plantation overseer for not helping him capture an escaped slave. She therefore suffered a very bad head injury that damaged her brain, marking her life forever. Because of this, she suffered seizured and habitually lost consciousness several times during the day. In some cases, she would also have hallucinations, which she would interpret as religious visions.
Harriet Tubman understood that there was only one way to change her life and her living condition: to escape North. In the North of the United States, slavery wasn't widespread because the economy was mostly industrial. The North didn't rely on large plantations as the South did. The North offered more opportunities for everyone, including African Americans. For example, in response to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which deprived fugitive slaves of a fair trial, the North passed personal liberty laws which didn't allow the capturing of runaway slaves and guaranteed them the right of a jury trial. Even before this law was passed, Harriet Tubman knew as a fact that life in the North would be better.
Escaping slavery was a very brave act. It was every risky, because if a slave would be captured, there would be severe punishments. Tubman...