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Harriet Tubman

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Essay title: Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

Even before Harriet Tubman was born she had a powerful enemy. Her enemy wasn't a person or even a country; it was the system known as slavery. It is known that at least two grandparents were captured by slave traders and brought to North America from the Slave Coast of Africa during the 18th century. Because slaves were not allowed to read and write, Tubman grew up illiterate. She left no letters or diaries that would later allow historians to piece together all the parts of her life story. But we do know that she was one of history's great heroines. With courage and determination, she escaped from slavery herself and then led more than 300 slaves to safety and freedom. When the Civil War began, she tirelessly scouted for the Union army and continued to free her people. Many of these newly freed slaves became new recruits for the Union army. Tubman rose from slavery to become one of the most remarkable stories in the history of the United States of America.

About 40 years before the Civil War began, a slave child, Araminta. Like others born into slavery, Araminta, who later become known as Harriet Ross Tubman, was never to know her birth date. Her parents, Harriet Greene and Benjamin Ross, couldn't read or write. They didn't even know the months of the year. They simply kept track by the seasons: summer, winter, harvest time, and planting time. They had no family records beyond their own memories to document the births of their 11 children.

The most important fact about Harriet Tubman's birth was not the date or the place, or even who her parents were. It was that she was, from the day she was born the property of Edward Brodas, who owned her parents. A child was a slave if either her mother or father was a slave.

Araminta's master, Edward Brodas, wasn't an evil man. He went to church, where he was taught that slavery was a natural part of life and that God had made white people better than black people. He was taught that because he was born with the privilege of being white and wealthy, it was his responsibility to provide those entrusted to his care. He didn't feel sorry for his slaves as they worked all day in the hot sun, because he honestly believed that the Africans were better suited to such labor than he was. He believed that they had been created for just such hard, backbreaking work. When he heard his slaves singing as they worked among the tobacco plants, he liked to think to think it was a sign that they were happy.

Araminta, having her mother near her, was very fortunate. Some slave owners separated a mother from her children very soon after she stopped nursing. Sometimes the mother was sold or hired out to live and work on another farm. The law did not recognize the marriages and families of slaves. It was up to the owners if they were considered married or not. As a result, many slave children never knew their parents or their own brothers and sisters. Only during the later years of slavery did most owners try to keep families together.

When Araminta was a child, Maryland planters were no longer growing much tobacco. They grew wheat and corn and hoped for better times. The Brodas plantation wasn't as rich as it had once been. The slaves knew this because many of them were disappearing from the plantations. Some were sold. Others were hired out to people who couldn't afford to buy their own slaves.

Araminta later worked as an apprentice to Mrs. Cook who taught her how to weave. The lint from the weaver's yarn made Araminta cough and sneeze. She wasn't at all interested in becoming a weaver and having to sit all day in a workhouse, so she paid little attention to her work. Mrs. Cook later gave up on her, so Mr. Cook decided to try her at another job. So the Brodas decided to give Araminta a job of a babysitter, she was now a scrawny seven-year old who didn't seem bright enough to follow the simplest instructions. Her master probably thought he was lucky to get anything at all for her. So Araminta was put into the woman's wagon without a word of explanation and driven off. After a while, the wagon stopped beside the woman's house. She had never been in her masters' house before. The woman's house wasn't very fine. It had a wooden floor and several rooms, including a parlor that was furnished with tables, chairs, and oil lamps. Araminta had never seen such nice things.

Apparently her new mistress, Miss Susan, had never had a servant before, because she seemed to have no understanding of her own responsibility toward the child. Her most important duty was caring for the

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