Harriet Tubman: Coin Freedom (Part-1)

The first American abolitionist society formed in the mid-1700s. Despite this early start, abolition didn't take off in the U.S. until the 1820s. Underground Railroad origins are equally as old.

Many misunderstandings surround the Underground Railroad. It was a network of people, not an organization. Though many whites participated, it was mostly black. It became “The Underground Railroad” circa 1830.

Maybe the Underground Railroad wasn't underground, but the name fit. The guides were dubbed “conductors,” the shelters were “stations,” and the runaways were “passengers.” Runaway slaves traveled miles between safe houses. Approximately 100,000 slaves escaped via the Underground Railroad between 1810 and 1850.

Slaves often escaped their plantations alone, or a “conductor” would masquerade as a slave and lead them.

Tubman was Araminta Ross, born in Maryland to two slaves in 1820–1822. Her birthday is unknown. She was a household worker and opposed slavery from a young age. A lead weight hit her in the head while trying to save an imprisoned man from being punished for escaping. Her lifelong headaches and narcolepsy plagued her.

Slaves couldn't marry, but she married freeman John Tubman in 1844. She adopted his name and became Harriet.

Tubman fled after hearing she and her brothers might be sold in 1849. Her spouse stayed. She was wanted for $100. After vowing to return for her friends and family, Tubman began her many voyages, helping many reach freedom. About 70 more people achieved their own freedom under her guidance, expanding the network.

Lloyd Garrison called Tubman Moses, which stuck. She helped individuals reach the “Promise Land,” but the name also masked her identity. Patrols for fugitive slaves often sought men.