Harriet Tubman 1822-1913

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Let my people go! (Taken from Exodus 5:1).  This was surely one of Harriet Tubman’s heart cries, pictured in a name she was given; she was a woman called “Moses.”

It is not unusual for people to be given nicknames relative to the Scriptures because of what they have done with their lives. Harriet Tubman’s life and passion did not contradict the life of Moses. Like Moses, Harriet was a devout believer, comforted and strengthened by her very personal relationship with her Jesus, our Jesus. 

Most children before the age of ten have scarcely a care in the world. Not so for little Harriet. She was a slave child and worked like an adult. She was overworked, but also brutally beaten. At about the age of 13, she was injured when struck in the head with a metal object that was thrown at her. Harriet never learned to read or write; I am not sure if this is because of this injury. Perhaps opportunity was a factor too. 

What Harriet Tubman was not was unlearned. She was an intelligent woman that craved freedom for herself and for others. She was spiritually minded and knew many Bible verses and hymns. The success of her life’s exploits confirm that she was smart, but also clever. I would go one step further. This woman had a relationship with the God of the Universe and His involvement in her life is evident.

Harriet did not start the Underground Railroad but she knew the “ins and outs” of it. She made dozens of trips from the south to the north, final destination Canada and never lost a passenger

Joining the underground railroad in a quest for freedom was wrought with danger and secrecy was vitally important. When it was time to leave, she sang a couple of hymns, most probably known to all, but their meaning held a signal to slaves brave enough to travel north for freedom.

One of them was Sing Low Sweet Chariot:

Coming for to carry me home.

If you get there before I do,

Coming for to carry me home,

Tell all my friends that I’m coming, too,

Coming for to carry me home

The other one was called “Steal Away:”

Steal Away

Steal away, steal away

Steal away to Jesus

Steal away, steal away home

I ain’t got long to stay here

My Lord, He calls me

Secret code in hymns. Brilliant.

Harriet carried a gun, but not to protect the slaves she was helping, but to protect the underground railroad system. When slaves felt afraid and wanted to turn back, much like the Israelites did in the Old Testament, she would not allow them to go back. She threatened to kill them if they would not continue because their retreat would increase the danger for those following. Mrs. Tubman never never did have to use that gun, but she would have.

Yes; Harriet was married. She married a free man named John Tubman, but he did not share her passions. Later he married a woman that was born free. 

The number of slaves Harriet is credited with freeing by traveling the Underground Railway is not precisely known, but thought to be over seventy. She is credited with bringing as many as a thousand slaves out of bondage by using other means.

Perhaps most stunning, Harriet served in the Union Army as a cook and a nurse and as a scout during the Civil War in 1863. Her single-mindedness, faith and fortitude made her the first woman to lead an armed expedition into a battle that freed approximately 700 slaves. Harriet clearly recognized opportunity.

Mrs. Harriet Tubman was a true American hero, inarguably bold, brave and fearless. She was a warrior, but her accomplishments included others worthy endeavours. She founded a home for the aged.  

Harriet Tubman was a great Christian woman that changed the history of the United States and won hearts of many prominent individuals. Well-known abolitionist Quaker Thomas Garrett said of her: “I never met with any person of any color who had more confidence in the voice of God, as spoken direct to her soul.”  That quote drives me to consider my own testimony.

I grew up not far from the Mason-Dixon Line and I knew a little about it, generally speaking. It was also a landmark we looked for as we traveled home from a long journey. It meant that we were almost home. The Mason Dixon line had deep and real meaning for Harriet Tubman’s heart. After passing into the north where men, and women were free, she wondered if she looked different as a free woman:  “I looked on my hands to see if I was the same person now that I was free…. I felt like I was in heaven.”  I guess, when she passed the Mason-Dixon Line, it meant she was nearing home too.

There are two intimate biographies written about Harriet Tubman, both written by Sarah H. Bradford, also an abolitionist, but also a friend of Harriet. One book is called Harriet Tubman and the other is Harriet Tubman, The Moses of the People. Sarah Bradford obviously had high regard to Mrs. Tubman to have written two biographies of her life.