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Harriet Tubman: The Icon Of The Underground Railroad

3120 words - 12 pages

Harriet Tubman:The Icon of the Underground RailroadIn March 1913, Harriet Tubman was buried with military honors in Auburn's Fort Hill Cemetery. A photograph of the event shows a handsome coffin at the gravesite, while black and white mourners crowd around (Clinton 215). Shortly after her death, the town of Auburn, New York decided to dedicate a plaque in her honor. The bronze tablet meant to herald Tubman's achievement.It began:CALLED THE "MOSES" OF HER PEOPLE, DURING THE CIVIL WAR, WITH RARE COURAGE, SHE LED OVER THREE HUNDRED NEGROES UP FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM, AND RENDERED INVALUABLE SERVICE AS NURSE AND SPY.It then proclaimed:SHE TRUTHFULLY SAID "ON MY UNDERGROUND RAILROADI NEBBER RUN MY TRAIN OF DE TRACK AND I NEBBER LOS'A PASSENGER." (Clinton 216)Tubman had become a celebrity during her years with the Underground Railroad and her struggle for the freedom of blacks. She came to be known by several names such as "Moses", in being the leader and guide to many in their exodus from the Land of Bondage, "Conductor of the Underground Railroad" and many more. The Underground Railroad, which was a passage to freedom for many slaves, was rife with dangers. The escape required both faith and courage. It is one of the most enduring and popular part of American history. (Clinton 215-217; Maxwell, Harriet Ross Tubman)African-Americans in HistoryWhen we think of African Americans in history, what first comes to our mind is "slavery". Africans first came to America through the Atlantic slave trade, where blacks from along the coast of West Africa were transferred to European colonies in the Americas. From the time the first slaves came to Virginia in 1691, the Africans have played an important part in the American working class. The driving force behind the growth of the so-called institution of "slavery" is the American whites need for labor, especially in the fields. These African Americans have suffered oppression for the growth and enrichment of the whites. At first, they worked on tobacco plantations. As agriculture flourished, slaves had to work on cotton, rice and sugar plantations. However, not all African Americans were slaves. In large plantations, black women worked as cooks, domestic servants, midwives and nurses. A few skilled men worked as carpenters. Some male slaves hired by companies worked to lay railroad tracks, dig canals, and mine coal or salt. Not all slaves were confined to the South. Until the law of gradual emancipation in the North passed, a number of individuals and companies in the North labored slaves. (African American Labor History)Even though the Civil War ended slavery in the South, it did not produce economic equality for all the four million freed men and women. The so-called "Black Codes" passed by southern legislators barred blacks from working in skilled jobs. Most of them, though formally free, continued to work as dependent laborers on plantations. Their desire to secure their independence was stymied by several...

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