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Harriet Tubman: A Life Worth Living

2574 words - 10 pages

The 1800’s were a bad time for the United States. A new country and already we had vastly differing opinions on one topic: slavery. People were on one extreme or the other, resulting in heated debates and fights over laws and regulations. A revolutionary of her time and an escaped slave, Harriet Tubman was singlehandedly the most effective Underground Railroad “conductor” there ever was. If it were not for her, many slaves would never have been freed from the institution of slavery. Rebellious and set on attaining her freedom from a young age, she never let anyone keep her in her “place.” The 11th child in a family and illiterate her entire life, she managed to set over 300 slaves free in a period of about ten years.
Born on the Edward Brodas Plantation, in Dorchester Country to Benjamin Ross and Harriet Green around 1820, Harriet Tubman was one of the most advancing forces with the Underground Railroad. Originally named Araminta ‘Minty’ Ross, she changed her last name when she married and her first in honor of her mother (Women in History). As a young child, she was put to work as a house servant, taking care of menial chores like cleaning and taking care of babies. She once said, “I was so little that I had to sit on the floor and have the baby put in my lap, and that baby was always in my lap except when it was sleep or when its mother was feeding it (Driggs).” She did not like being forced to babysit every day and nonstop for hours at a time. Many times, she was “loaned” out to other slave owners to do similar work in their houses (PBS). She was rebellious even at a young age; she stole a lump of sugar at the age of seven and proceeded to run away to avoid being punished. She was gone for five days before she submitted to hunger and came back to accept her whipping (Washington). Once in her early teens, she was moved outside to work in the fields. She was prized in her strength; she could easily out-do a man in most field activities (Washington).
Around the age of fourteen, she defended a fellow slave but paid a price for it. A slave ran away and Harriet decided to follow. An overseer also followed, and once caught up, demanded that she help to tie him down. She refused to help with his restraint and even aided in the slave’s escape. After he had escaped through a door, Harriet closed the door on the overseer and held it shut with all of her strength (Washington). As the slave was fleeing, the overseer threw a two-pound weight at him but missed, striking Harriet in the forehead and knocking her out. The hit would follow her around her entire life; it left a large scar and according to Kate Larson, caused her to suffer from temporal lobe epilepsy. She had narcoleptic seizures (also known as sleeping spells) the rest of her life because of this. She claims that her hair is what saved her from being killed; it was not combed and usually in a mess, creating an improvised cushion. She took a few months to recover; it...

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