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Cultural phenomenon in African-American History from the Colonial Era to Reconstruction - Essay Example

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Name Instructor Course Date Harriet Tubman: The General of the Underground Railway. The development of African-American history is punctuated by the occurrence of momentous, life-changing events and the impact of special leaders and persons. These are the milestones which directed the path to transformation and defined the place secured by African-Americans in current society and culture…
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Cultural phenomenon in African-American History from the Colonial Era to Reconstruction
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Cultural phenomenon in African-American History from the Colonial Era to Reconstruction

Download file to see previous pages... Her sisters were sold away from the family. Her mother held the rest of the family together with a determined resistance which was an inspiration to her daughter. Ben was freed from slavery at the age of forty-five, but continued to work as a foreman for his former owners. The family was helpless to fight for the freedom which his wife and children were later entitled to. (Biography.com). The young Harriet’s childhood was marked by harsh conditions: she inserted her toes into the smoldering ashes of a fire at night, in order to avoid frostbite. She received severe whippings even as a small child, working at various jobs, including weaving, housekeeping and baby-sitting, by the age of six. At the age of 12, she was seriously injured by a blow to the head, inflicted by a white overseer for refusing to help him tie up a runaway slave. This injury continued to be the source of life-long seizures, severe headaches and narcoleptic episodes. In 1844, at the age of 25, Harriet married John Tubman, a free Black man, who did not share her dreams of escaping to freedom in the North (Williams).   In 1849, Harriet’s owner died and she feared being sold to the South. This impelled her to make a bid for freedom. She was initially accompanied by her two brothers, but the men lost their courage and returned to their slave life. Guided by the North Star, penniless and friendless, Harriet hid during the day and walked across strange country by night. Her determination is seen in her words, “I had reasoned dis out in my mind; there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty, or death; if I could not have one, I would have de oder” (qtd. In Simkin). She secured aid from white abolitionists. Harriet’s escape bid included being covered in a sack and carried in a wagon, using a succession of ‘safe houses’ and finally crossing the Mason-Dixon line (dividing the free states of the North and the slave states of the South) to reach Philadelphia. In a poignant tribute to her freedom, Harriet says, “When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything” (qtd. in Biography. Com). Harriet then embarked on the next stage of her life, which was to make her one of the most remarkable women in African-American history. Harriet took on a job in Philadelphia, worked tirelessly, and used her pay to help other blacks follow her path to freedom. She made the acquaintance of William Still, who was one to the most active ‘station masters’ of the Underground Railroad. The UGRR was the route to freedom along which slaves were transported from the South to the North. In order to maintain secrecy, the routes were called ‘lines’, the safe-houses were ‘stations,’ the slaves were ‘freight’ or ‘packages’ and the agents who guided them were the ‘conductors.’ With Still’s help, and that of the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society, Harriet became an official ‘conductor’ of the UGRR. When the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 made the North dangerous for runaway slaves, who faced the threat of recapture and return to their former masters, the UGRR made Canada the destination of the people it guided. In 1851, Tubman moved to St. Catharines in Canada and used the city as the base for her activities. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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