How Did Harriet Tubman Overcome Her Challenges How Did Harriet Tubman Overcome Her Challenges

How Did Harriet Tubman Overcome Her Challenges? 6 Remarkable Ways Harriet Tubman Triumphed Over Adversity

Today, Harriet Tubman stands as an inspiring symbol of resilience, sacrifice, and perseverance. Her life is a testament to the human capacity to overcome adversity and fight for what is right. Through her actions, Tubman not only changed the course of history but also left a lasting legacy that continues to inspire generations.

You must be wondering about how did Harriet Tubman overcome her challenges? Well, the story of Harriet Tubman is a testament to the indomitable spirit of humanity and the relentless pursuit of freedom.

Go through the article and witness her triumph over adversity.

1. Introduction: The Indomitable Spirit of Harriet Tubman

Depicting Tubman leading a young enslaved girl to freedom.
Source- Shutterstock

Born into slavery in 1822 as Araminta Ross, Tubman’s life on Maryland’s Eastern Shore was fraught with struggle and strife from the outset.

At a young age, Tubman was subjected to the harsh realities of slavery. She was separated from her family, and forced to work in fields and forests. She even suffered a traumatic head injury that led to lifelong health problems.

But, these trials only served to galvanize her spirit and feed her determination for freedom.

In the face of immense challenges, Tubman escaped slavery in 1849. She managed to find her way to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she tasted freedom for the first time. But her journey towards liberation did not end there. Instead, she used her newfound liberty as a platform to help others caught in the shackles of slavery.

Tubman also played a critical role in the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses used by enslaved African-Americans to escape into free states and Canada.

Her courage and leadership did not go unnoticed. During the Civil War, she worked as a spy for the Union Army, using her intimate knowledge of the Southern landscape to aid the cause of abolition. Post-war, Tubman continued to champion equality, fighting for women’s rights and providing services to the needy.


2. Early Life: Harriet Tubman’s Trials and Tribulations as a Slave

Harriet Tubman, born Araminta Ross around 1820 in Dorchester County, Maryland, faced numerous trials and hardships from a very young age. Like many slaves of her time, the exact details of her birth remain unclear.

She was put to work as a house servant when she was just five or six years old, and by the time she reached her early teens, she was sent to toil in the fields.

One of the most significant and life-altering events of Tubman’s early life occurred when she was still in her early teens. She was hit on the head with a heavy metal weight, thrown by an overseer at another escaping slave.

This cruel act left her with a traumatic brain injury. It caused her to suffer from seizures, severe headaches, and narcoleptic episodes for the rest of her life. The indomitable spirit of Tubman was evident even then, as she refused to let this injury define her or limit her capabilities.

These early experiences with brutality, injustice, and personal health struggles shaped Tubman’s future actions. Instead of breaking her spirit, they ignited in her a fierce determination to seek freedom, not just for herself but also for others who were trapped in the same oppressive system.

During her time as a slave, Tubman witnessed and endured the vicious mistreatment that was all too common in the slaveholding South. But, instead of succumbing to despair, Tubman chose to channel her experiences into a tireless fight for freedom.

In the face of brutal adversity, Tubman proved that the human spirit is capable of incredible strength and resilience.


3. The Great Escape: Tubman’s Journey Towards Freedom

Harriet Tubman’s journey from slavery to freedom in the fall of 1849 was a testament to her iron will and indomitable spirit. Faced with the grim prospect of being sold further into the brutal conditions of slavery in the deep South. Tubman made the daring decision to escape alone.

As she left Maryland and headed northward through Delaware, she demonstrated unparalleled courage, determination, and resourcefulness. By traveling by night and hiding by day, she successfully traversed treacherous landscapes, including open fields, rivers, marshes, and woodlands. After an arduous journey, she found freedom in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

However, Tubman’s escape from slavery was fraught with peril. The risks were immense – capture would mean severe punishment, even death. Yet, Tubman had firmly resolved that she would fight for her liberty as long as her strength lasted.

In her words, “There was one of two things I had a right to, liberty, or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man should take me alive.” This indomitable resolve propelled her forward, even in the face of grave dangers.

Tubman expertly managed the risks during her escape by utilizing her wilderness skills and displaying remarkable adaptability. Her intimate knowledge of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, combined with the navigational skills she had honed from her childhood, played a crucial role in her successful escape. Moreover, Tubman’s deep faith in God provided her with spiritual sustenance, guiding her through the darkest hours of her journey.

Escaped Her Loved Ones

image of Harriet Tubman on a postage stamp
Source- Shutterstock

Upon reaching Philadelphia, Tubman tasted the sweet nectar of freedom. But, she soon realized that her freedom was incomplete without her loved ones. Despite the risk posed by the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Tubman made the courageous decision to return to Maryland’s Eastern shore multiple times over the next decade.

Leveraging her intelligence, boldness, and wilderness skills, she led around 70 people to freedom, most of whom were family and friends, and provided instructions to 50-60 others to aid their escape.

In essence, Tubman’s great escape from slavery was more than just a personal quest for freedom. It embodied her unwavering commitment to the cause of liberation and equality, ultimately forging her reputation as the “Moses of her people”.


4. Becoming a Conductor: Tubman’s Role in the Underground Railroad

Harriet Tubman, notable for her indomitable spirit and relentless pursuit of freedom, played a pivotal role as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Her courage, determination, and leadership skills set her apart as she guided hundreds of enslaved people to freedom.

Tubman’s tireless efforts in the Underground Railroad not only changed the lives of those she liberated but also left an indelible mark on American history.

Tubman’s Leadership and Courage

Tubman, often referred to as “Moses” for her success in guiding slaves to freedom, is credited with leading over 300 enslaved people to safety. Her boldness and cunning were evident in the strategies she used to ensure the safe passage of those under her care.

Tubman’s resourcefulness and ingenuity were instrumental in the successful completion of these perilous missions. She showcased exceptional courage, repeatedly risking her life to bring others to freedom.

Strategies and Methods

Tubman’s success as a conductor relied heavily on her ability to navigate routes, identify safe houses, and connect with trustworthy individuals who assisted those escaping slavery.

  • She led the enslaved northwards, sometimes crossing the border into Canada, and at other times heading south from Texas to Mexico.
  • In one noteworthy instance, Tubman’s rescue efforts moved from Maryland to New York, culminating in the dramatic rescue of Charles Nalle, an escaped slave who was subsequently arrested.
  • Tubman’s leadership extended beyond mere guidance. She created an atmosphere of discipline and unity among the fugitives, essential elements for their collective survival.
  • Despite facing numerous dangers, her iron-willed determination and meticulous planning ensured the successful execution of these covert operations.

In essence, Harriet Tubman’s role in the Underground Railroad was more than that of a conductor. She was a beacon of hope, a symbol of defiance against oppression, and a testament to the power of resilience and determination.

Her extraordinary achievements continue to inspire, underscoring the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity.


5. In the Face of Danger: Tubman as a Union Army Spy

During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman donned several hats – becoming a spy, scout, nurse, and even a guerilla soldier for the Union Army.

Her experience with the Underground Railroad had given her a vast knowledge of the Southern landscape and transportation routes. This insider information was invaluable to the Union Army during the war.

Harriet Tubman Memorial Statue in Harlem, New York.
Source- Shutterstock

Tubman’s Work as a Spy and Its Dangers

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Tubman set aside her fight against slavery to serve the United States Army as a soldier and spy.

Massachusetts Governor John Andrew, known for his efforts to form all-Black regiments, recognized Tubman’s potential as an intelligence asset. He arranged for her to work with Army officers in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Here, Tubman provided nursing services to soldiers and liberated people crowding Union camps. However, it was her service of spying and scouting behind Confederate lines that earned her the highest praise and recognition.

Her Significant Contributions to Abolitionist Cause Through Intelligence Work

Utilizing her unique position, Tubman recruited eight men and skillfully infiltrated enemy territory.

  • She connected with local enslaved individuals who secretly shared knowledge of Confederate movements and plans.
  • Many local African Americans, wary of white Union soldiers, trusted Tubman, allowing her to gather valuable intelligence.
  • According to George Garrison, a second lieutenant with the 55th Massachusetts Regiment, Tubman managed to secure “more intelligence from them than anybody else”.
  • This intelligence played a significant role in the abolitionist cause, contributing to the eventual victory of the Union and the abolition of slavery.

The Aftermath of Tubman’s Service as a Spy

Despite her invaluable contributions, Tubman faced significant resistance when she sought payment for her service. The U.S. Congress denied her claim while paying the eight Black male scouts she had recruited.

It wasn’t until 1899, thirty years later, when Congress finally awarded her a pension for her service as a Civil War nurse, but not as a soldier or spy.

Even in the face of such blatant discrimination, Tubman’s commitment to fighting for gender equality and the right to vote remained undeterred. She continued her struggle for more than 50 years after her work during the Civil War, embodying the true spirit of resilience and leadership.


6. Champion for Women’s Rights: Tubman’s Struggle for Gender Equality

Harriet Tubman was not only a key figure in the Underground Railroad but also an unyielding champion for women’s rights. She believed in the equality of all people, regardless of race or gender.

This belief made her a sympathetic figure in the women’s rights movement and prompted her to use her platform to advocate for women’s suffrage.

Tubman’s Advocacy for Women’s Rights

Many of Tubman’s supporters during her Underground Railroad years were involved in the women’s rights movement. Interestingly, these connections proved instrumental in shaping her advocacy for gender equality.

After the Civil War, Tubman developed close bonds with women’s rights activists such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. While she did not assume the role of a leader within the movement, she was an ardent supporter.

As a woman who had fought for her own freedom and that of others. Tubman worked alongside her friends, speaking about her experiences as a female slave and a liberator of those born into slavery.

She toured New York, Boston, and Washington, using her stories to argue in favor of women’s suffrage rights.

The Struggles for Women’s Suffrage

The early years of the Women’s Rights Movement date back to 1848, when small groups of women joined together at the National Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York.

They fought for rights that women did not enjoy at the time, including the right to attend college, own property, or enter male-dominated professions.

The most controversial issue considered in the convention was women’s suffrage. Several groups emerged after the Civil War advocating for women’s suffrage, including the New England Woman Suffrage Association (NEWSA) and the National Woman Suffrage Association. Their objective was to amend the Constitution to include women’s right to vote.

Tubman’s Focus on African American Women’s Rights

Despite the general struggle for women’s rights, Tubman held a particular interest in the rights of African American women. Even in her frailty, Tubman was invited as a guest speaker at the first meeting of the National Association of Colored Women in 1896.

Despite being illiterate, her speeches were compelling and left audiences wanting more. She was an example of the indomitable spirit that has become synonymous with her name.

Realization of Women’s Suffrage

It wasn’t until 1920, long after Tubman’s active years, that Women’s suffrage in the U.S. was finally realized with the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The turn of the 20th century saw increased support for women’s civil rights from both men and women.

The largest Women’s Suffrage parade took place in 1915 in New York City with about 30,000 women participating. The National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) adopted Sacagawea as a symbol for women’s rights, marking the continuous struggle and eventual success of the cause Tubman had fervently supported.

Harriet Tubman
By GDJ from Pixabay/ Copyright 2023


Frequently Asked Questions

Who was Harriet Tubman?

Harriet Tubman was an African American woman born into slavery in Maryland in the early 1820s.

What were some of the adversities faced by Harriet Tubman?

Harriet Tubman faced numerous adversities, including being born into slavery, witnessing and experiencing abuse, and enduring the hardships of life as a slave.

How did Harriet Tubman triumph over adversity?

Harriet Tubman triumphed over adversity through her determination, bravery, and resilience. She escaped slavery, became a key figure in the Underground Railroad, led numerous slaves to freedom, and actively fought for abolition and women’s rights throughout her life.

What are Harriet Tubman’s remarkable achievements?

Some of Harriet Tubman’s remarkable achievements include freeing herself from slavery, leading around 70 enslaved individuals to freedom through the Underground Railroad, serving as a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War, and actively advocating for the rights of African Americans and women.


How Did Harriet Tubman Overcome Her Challenges? The Lasting Impact of Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman’s indomitable spirit was not only a beacon of hope for the enslaved people she led to freedom, but it has also left an enduring impact on American history that continues to resonate today.

Her monumental efforts as a conductor in the Underground Railroad and her contributions to the Union during the American Civil War were instrumental in the abolition of slavery in the United States.

This unyielding woman, born into the harsh confines of slavery, managed to change the course of history with her bravery and unwavering commitment to justice.

Tubman’s role in the fight against slavery can’t be understated. As Black History Month UK explains, after escaping from slavery herself, Tubman led around 13 missions to rescue over 70 enslaved people, making perilous journeys back into the heart of slave-holding territory.

Furthermore, Tubman’s service during the Civil War bolstered the Union’s efforts and hastened the end of slavery. As a nurse, cook, and spy for the Union, Tubman provided invaluable support to the cause. Despite receiving little pay or recognition for her wartime contributions, Tubman’s efforts undoubtedly played a role in the Union’s victory.

Triumph Over Adversity: Inspiring Generations

Tubman’s resilience in the face of unimaginable adversity remains a source of inspiration for many. Her own words perfectly encapsulate her indomitable spirit: “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”

Her journey from a life of servitude to becoming one of the most revered figures in American history is a testament to the power of determination, courage, and relentless pursuit of justice.