Essay on Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman, born Araminta Ross in 1822, stands as an enduring symbol of bravery and relentless pursuit of freedom. Her life’s journey from a slave in Maryland to a leading figure in the Underground Railroad and beyond is a testament to her indomitable spirit and unwavering commitment to liberty. This essay delves into Tubman’s life, her role in the abolitionist movement, and her lasting legacy, offering an inspiring narrative for students participating in essay writing competitions.

Early Life and Escape from Slavery

Born into slavery, Tubman experienced the brutal realities of enslavement from a young age. Her early life in Dorchester County, Maryland, was marked by hardship and abuse. Despite these challenges, Tubman’s spirit remained unbroken. Her escape in 1849 was a pivotal moment that ignited her life’s mission. Traveling by night, using the North Star as her guide, she reached Philadelphia and tasted freedom for the first time.

The Underground Railroad and the Quest for Freedom

Tubman’s involvement with the Underground Railroad began soon after her escape. Unwilling to enjoy freedom while others suffered, she made it her mission to rescue her family and others living in the bondage of slavery. Over the next decade, Tubman became one of the most prominent “conductors” on the Railroad, embarking on numerous dangerous missions to the South. She used her intelligence, knowledge of the terrain, and unwavering determination to guide over 300 slaves to freedom, never losing a single passenger.

Strategies and Innovations

Tubman’s success on the Underground Railroad can be attributed to her extraordinary resourcefulness and innovative strategies. She often disguised herself and her charges, used secret codes in songs to communicate, and planned her journeys meticulously. Her profound understanding of covert operations and her ability to outthink her pursuers were crucial to her success.

Civil War Contributions

During the Civil War, Tubman’s role evolved from conductor to spy and nurse for the Union Army. She provided invaluable intelligence and even led an armed expedition, the Combahee River Raid, which resulted in the liberation of over 700 slaves. Her contributions during the war further solidified her status as a leader and a strategist.

Post-War Achievements and Advocacy

After the Civil War, Tubman’s commitment to justice and equality did not wane. She turned her focus to women’s suffrage, working alongside other prominent figures like Susan B. Anthony. Tubman’s advocacy for voting rights was driven by her belief in equality, not just for African Americans but for all disenfranchised groups.

Personal Life and Legacy

Tubman’s personal life was as dynamic as her public persona. She married John Tubman, a free black man, in 1844. After his death, she remarried Nelson Davis in 1869 and remained with him until his death. Tubman’s later years were spent in Auburn, New York, where she established the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged, demonstrating her lifelong commitment to caring for others.


  • Abolitionist Icon: Harriet Tubman is widely recognized as one of the most prominent abolitionists in American history. Her bravery and determination to free enslaved individuals have made her an enduring symbol of the fight against slavery.
  • Underground Railroad: Tubman’s contributions to the Underground Railroad and her role in helping hundreds of enslaved people escape to freedom are celebrated as a testament to her courage and selflessness.
  • Civil Rights Pioneer: Her advocacy for civil rights and her dedication to ending racial injustice paved the way for later civil rights leaders and movements.
  • Military Service: Tubman’s service as a nurse, cook, and spy during the Civil War highlights her commitment to the Union cause and the rights of Black soldiers.
  • Recognition and Commemoration: Tubman’s legacy has been officially recognized by the United States. She appeared on the U.S. postage stamp, and her life story was featured on the $20 bill (although this change was postponed). Additionally, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park was established in her honor in Maryland.
  • Inspiration for Activists: Harriet Tubman’s life and actions continue to inspire activists and advocates for social justice, particularly in the ongoing fight against racism and inequality.
  • Education and Scholarships: Numerous educational institutions and scholarships have been named after Tubman to support the education and advancement of marginalized communities.


In conclusion, Harriet Tubman’s legacy transcends time. Her life story is a powerful narrative of courage, resilience, and an unyielding fight for freedom and equality. For students participating in essay writing competitions, Tubman’s life offers rich material that not only educates but also inspires. Her journey from a slave to a freedom fighter and civil rights advocate embodies the ideals of courage, selflessness, and determination. Tubman’s life reminds us that one individual’s unwavering commitment to justice can indeed change the course of history.

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