She was born a slave. She couldn't read or write. She had headaches and dizzy spells all the time. Yet Harriet Tubman was able to lead hundreds of American slaves to freedom and work for the rights of African Americans until she died at the age of 93.
Harriet Tubman was born in 1820 as a slave on a plantation in Maryland. It was a hard life made worse when, at the age of 13, Harriet was hit in the head by an iron weight thrown by a slave owner. She almost died and was left with dizzy spells for the rest of her life.
In 1849, when she was 29, Harriet escaped from the plantation. After a long and scary trip she reached safety in Pennsylvania. Here she began her work helping slaves escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad.
The Underground Railroad wasn't an actual railroad. It was a path that slaves traveled to get to the northern states or Canada where slavery was against the law. The people who helped the slaves were called conductors. Slaves would move from safehouse to safehouse at night, hiding in the woods or sneaking onto trains until they finally reached the north and freedom.
Harriet became famous as an Underground Railroad conductor. She led more than sixteen escapes from the south and helped more than 300 slaves, including her own family. She became known as "Moses" because, like the Moses in the Bible, she led her people to freedom.
During the Civil War in the 1860's, Tubman helped to nurse injured soldiers. She was also a spy for the Union and helped in a military effort that led to the rescue of hundreds of slaves.
After the Civil War, Harriet lived in New York with her family. She continued her efforts to help people and worked hard for equal rights for blacks and women.