Harriet Tubman - In Memoriam
- Published on Sunday, 15 May 2016 18:44
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
Harriet Tubman - In Memoriam
(Born Araminta Harriet Ross)
Circa 1822 – March 10, 1913 (91)
(Photo of Harriet T. with her 1873 Winchester Lever Action Rifle)
Harriet Tubman was an African American women born (Maryland) into slavery circa 1822. (Born Araminta Harriet Ross) She was a short lady only 5’-0” tall. When Harriet was in her 20’s (1849) she escaped to Philadelphia and started a life long career that has been described as an abolitionist and a humanitarian... She was also very active in the “Underground Railroad” movement for escaped slaves as well as "Women's Suffrage." Harriet was also a lady who knew her way around the world of firearms...Harriet kept a revolver close at hand for protection in her "Underground Railroad" activities...her service in the Union Army gave her a working knowledge of the Union Army's standard rifle, the Springfield model 1861 muzzle loader...a later years photograph (above) shows that Harriet kept up to date with the latest in firearms...and that she had migrated from the slow fire single shot rifle to the Winchester lever action 1873 rapid fire repeater rifle.
Harriet was nicknamed "Moses"...In honor of her courageous efforts to rescue black slaves and lead them to freedom, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison was said to have nick named her "Moses", comparing her to the Biblical prophet who led the Hebrews to freedom from Egypt.
Harriet T. was said to have carried a revolver which she was not afraid to use. This gun was also some protection from the ever-present slave catchers and their dogs ...This was during her “Underground Railroad” days...
Harriet also purportedly threatened to shoot any escaped slave who tried to turn back on the journey since that would threaten the safety of the remaining group.
Tubman told the tale of one man who insisted he was going to go back to the plantation when morale got low among a group of fugitive slaves. She pointed the gun at his head and said, "You go on or die." Several days later, he was with the group as they entered the United Province of Canada."...(No details are available about the make and model of this gun)
Service in the Union Army
During the Civil War years she served in the Union Army...first as a cook and nurse, and later as an armed scout and spy. She was said to be the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war. She guided the raid at Combahee Ferry which liberated more than 700 slaves...An artist’s sketch of her during her Union Army days shows her armed with the standard rifle of the Union Army, an 1861 Springfield .58 caliber muzzle loading rifle. See the artist's drawing at the bottom of the page.
Birth of the Klu Klux Klan
In 1865, the 14th Amendment became the law of the United States and it granted full citizenship rights to all former slaves...this resulted in the formation of the KKK (Klu Klux Klan)...an effort to control and counter the newly enfranchised slaves...who were nearly all Republicans as was Harriet T. the KKK started their reign of terror not only against the black republicans but also their supporting white Republicans...the book “American History in Black and White” has supporting data (Congressional hearings) that shows for the years 1882 to 1964, an estimated 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites died at the end of KKK ropes...Harriet T. at the time was living north of the danger zones.
Harriet T. and Abraham Lincoln
Harriet T. had said early on that she did not like Lincoln but that a friend eventually changed her mind...Sojourner Truth told her Lincoln was “our friend” and had gone to the White House in October of 1864 to thank Lincoln for signing the Emancipation Proclamation. Sojourner Truth told her that Lincoln appreciated the visit but felt he only did what any president would have done in his shoes. Although Harriet did not personally meet Lincoln she referred to him as a "Great Man"...
For the rest of her life, Tubman regretted not meeting Lincoln and thanking him for ending slavery. One of her close friends, Helen Tatlock, said during an interview in 1939:
“I remember very clearly Harriet saying, and repeating, very often, that she did not know Lincoln. It was a deep sorrow and regret of her later years. She never recovered from that in any way.”
The Later Years
In Harriet T’s later years, she was an active participant in the "Women’s Suffrage" movement.
She was twice married...her last husband died in 1888. ...Harriet T. did not receive a pension for her service in the Civil War until 1899.
Harriet was described as a “devout Christian” and was said to “experience strange visions and vivid dreams” which she ascribed to” premonitions” from God...This religious perspective informed her actions throughout her life...in her later years she became associated with the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.
Eventually Harriet retired to Auburn, New York where she cared for her aging parents. She continued active in the Women’s Suffrage movement until illness overtook her
Old Age - Illness - The Alzheimer's Question
As Harriet aged, seizures, headaches, and suffering from a childhood head trauma plagued her... she had difficulty sleeping because of pains and "buzzing" in her head...By 1911, her body was so frail that she had to be admitted into a rest home named in her honor. A New York newspaper described her as "ill and penniless", prompting supporters to offer donations.
It is entirely possible that she also had Alzheimer’s as the Alzheimer’s Association data and studies show that African American’s are 2 times more likely to get Alzheimer’s then any other race...in addition she was in the age group (Mid 80’s) where all elderly person’s normally have about 1 chance in 2 of getting Alzheimer’s...seizures are frequently one of the late stage symptoms. Harriet T. died of pneumonia. Aspiration pneumonia is one of the most common Alzheimer’s complications to result in death...in the late 1800’s death certificates were notoriously unreliable...the term “Alzheimer’s” or “Dementia” were not in common use.
Surrounded by friends and family members, Harriet died in 1913. Just before she died, she said aloud..."I go to prepare a place for you." (This is a quote by Jesus found in the New Testament John 14.3 KJV) I am sure that she was not talking to those at her bedside, but reminding Jesus of his promise to her.
Following her death she was buried with semi-military honors at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn.
Presently plans are underway to honor her by replacing Andrew Jackson’s photo on the front of the US twenty dollar bill with her photo and moving his photo to the backside of the bill...this is an ironic sort of justice in that Andrew Jackson, the founder of the Democratic party, owned many slaves (150) that were said to work on his Hermitage Plantation.
(Harriet T. with her Civil War Union Muzzle loading rifle)
Gill Denman - Essex, United Kingdom - (15 May 2016): "Seriously interesting story Stan. Thanks. "
Dianne Cogar - Springfield, Ohio - (15 May 2016): "My 13 year old granddaughter has done many reports and a lot of research on Harriet in the past two years...and she finds her to be an awesome woman."
After an almost 12 year journey into the shadows of Alzheimer's, early one morning in late October 2008, an exhausted June felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words: "Come Home June!" As June lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield, it was God's Angels that ushered June into a Heavenly Kingdom to the sound of a chorus of Angels...and into June's new home, a "Mansion on the Hilltop", where there is no pain, nor illness nor tears...June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label - just Click on: