Born as Araminta Ross in Dorchester county in Maryland on the plantation of Edward Brodas, a slave trader. As a child, she never liked to remain indoors. At the age of five she was hired as a slave laborer. She later took the name Harriet, in her memory of her mother. Harriet Ross was known for being defiant and would often come to the aid of other helpless slaves. One day, when she was about 13, she was hit on the head by an overseer with a lead weight while trying to help a runaway slave. That put her into a coma and she recovered several weeks later. But that injury caused her to suffer from blackouts and epileptic attacks throughout her life.
In 1844, Harriet Ross married John Tubman, who was a free black man. She took his last name. Since she was still a slave, she was allowed to spend the night in his cabin, but had to work in the fields by day. In early 1849, Edward Brodas died, leaving a widow and eight children behind. In order to pay off the debts, his widow decided to sell off some of the slaves and resurrect the farm. Fearing for her life, Harriet Tubman decided to escape.
She escaped north with two of her brothers. But after a while, they decided to turn back. She completed the 90 mile trip to the Mason-Dixon Line with the help of her contacts within the Underground Railroad movement. Harriet Tubman then settled down in Philadelphia and worked as a dishwasher and saved money. The following year she went back to Maryland to rescue her sister and sister's family. She thus began a series of trips back and forth and rescued several people.
Her husband, meanwhile, had remarried and refused to go with her. But Harriet Tubman went on regardless. She made about 19 trips and rescued nearly 300 people. The rewards for her capture totaled nearly $40,000.
Her exploits and her discipline on her rescue trips were well-known. She claimed that she never lost any of her passengers. Harriet had a straightforward philosophy about those who wanted to give up or turn back while on the way. She carried a gun with her, and told all her fellow passengers that she would not hesitate to shoot such a person who wanted to turn back on the way. "A live runaway could do great harm by going back, but that a dead one could tell no secrets" is what she would say. One story goes to say that on one of her wanted posters, she was described as illiterate. So at one point, she pulled out a book and pretended to be reading and escaped capture.
After the Civil War began, Harriet Tubman began working as a spy, and a soldier. During this time, she met Nelson Davis who was ten years younger to her.
After the war was over, she married Nelson Davis in 1870 and they settled down in Auburn, New York. They had a happy life for 18 years, till his death. In 1896, Harriet purchased some land where she planned to make a home for the sick and needy African-American people. In 1897, she was given a silver medal for bravery by Queen Victoria. She continued to stay in the home that she built till she died in 1913.
Harriet Tubman's life is one of courage and dignity. She lived her life by her own principles and defied all the obstacles in her way to help the slaves and help them to have a life of respect and dignity.