FORT WORTH, Tx, February 4, 2012 - We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…..
Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
Before the birth of our nation, people lived according to the station in which they were born. Until our Forefathers defied England’s King, dreams of a better life didn’t exist for most.
With a few exceptions you lived the life that your parents and ancestors did. There were no other options; Serfs weren’t allowed to become Noblemen or Kings.
The signers of our most famous treasonous document knew it would not grant freedom for everyone. Laying the groundwork for that universal freedom was the best they could do at the time. They understood that the stroke of a pen does not change societal views or the hearts of the people.
They did however know that Freedom is a gift from God Himself. Governments don’t give Freedom; they can only control how much of it we enjoy.
The result of this belief was the creation of a new form of government. A government designed to allow citizens to control their own destiny.
A country that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
Freedom as a concept and Freedom as a reality are two separate things, and not every American has enjoyed the taste of it without significant personal sacrifice. They had to work for it.
Harriet Tubman was one early American who embodied and lived what true Freedom is all about.
This lady was truly amazing. She was born into and lived the horrors of slavery. She also lived at a time when the rights and prospects for women were strictly limited.
However, those limits did not hold her back from doing what she believed was right. In the process, this amazing woman tore down barriers so that others would benefit from her struggles and as a result made inroads for civil rights, Black equality and the rights of women.
Harriet fought against the established rule and in the end made sure modern day Americans enjoy the fruits of her efforts.
Her name is synonymous with the Underground Railroad. In nineteen missions, she lead over three hundred slaves from the Eastern shore of Maryland, through Delaware and into Pennsylvania where they might find freedom.
She accomplished that feat while suffering from a chronic head injury, which historians believe was temporal lobe epilepsy caused by a blow to her head by a slave owner, which caused her to pass out without warning.
Not even that could deter her. In later interviews she declared,
“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.”
What a woman.
A lesser known fact about her is that she worked for the Union Army during the Civil War.
Ms. Tubman was a fixture in the Union Army camps as a spy, cook, and nurse of wounded soldiers. She also put to good use her knowledge of covert travel and subterfuge. This lady was also the first woman in US military history to plan and lead an armed assault.
Harriet guided three steamboats around Confederate mines on the Combahee River. Once landed, troops raided and set fire to plantations. During this the boat whistle blew sounding freedom to the slaves.
This one courageous act alone freed more than seven hundred slaves.
The Women’s Suffrage Movement was another place where Ms. Tubman fought. She frequented meetings and spoke about her actions throughout the Civil War.
Harriet also believed the right to vote was vital to preserving freedom. When asked if women should vote, Ms. Tubman replied: “I suffered enough to believe it.”
Harriet was a member and active in her church, AME Zion in Auburn, New York. In 1903 she gave land to the church for a rest home for African- Americans. Her dream was realized when the doors to the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged opened in 1908.
Counted among her friends were important contemporaries of the day; Fredrick Douglass, John Brown, Booker T. Washington, Susan B. Anthony, and US Senator and former New York State Governor William H. Seward and his wife Frances.
In her later years as she recalled her first trip to into Pennsylvania and to freedom, she is quoted as saying:
“When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.”
Unless taken from you, those of us born free can’t begin to truly appreciate her statement.
As a result of her efforts, the United States Senate honored Harriet Tubman :
SRES 455 ATS 111th CONGRESS 2d Session S. RES. 455 Honoring the life, heroism, and service of Harriet Tubman.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED States March 15, 2010
RESOLUTION Honoring the life, heroism, and service of Harriet Tubman. Whereas Harriet Ross Tubman was born into slavery as Araminta Ross in Dorchester County, Maryland, in or around 1820; Whereas in 1849, Ms. Tubman bravely escaped to freedom, traveling alone for approximately 90 miles to Pennsylvania; Whereas, after escaping slavery, Ms. Tubman participated in the Underground Railroad, a network of routes, people, and houses that helped slaves escape to freedom; Whereas Ms. Tubman became a `conductor’ on the Underground Railroad, courageously leading approximately 19 expeditions to help more than 300 slaves to freedom; Whereas Ms. Tubman served as a spy, nurse, scout, and cook during the Civil War; Whereas during her service in the Civil War, Ms. Tubman became the first woman in the United States to plan and lead a military expedition, which resulted in successfully freeing more than 700 slaves; Whereas after the Civil War, Ms. Tubman continued to fight for justice and equality, including equal rights for African-Americans and women; Whereas Ms. Tubman died on March 10, 1913, in Auburn, New York; and Whereas the heroic life of Ms. Tubman continues to serve as an inspiration to the people of the United States:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) honors the life and courageous heroism of Harriet Tubman;
(2) recognizes the great contributions made by Harriet Tubman throughout her lifelong service and commitment to liberty, justice, and equality for all; and
(3) encourages the people of the United States to remember the courageous life of Harriet Tubman, a true hero.
Mrs. BOXER (for herself, Mr. BROWNBACK, Mr. SPECTER, Ms. SNOWE, Mr. SCHUMER, Mrs. GILLIBRAND, Ms. MIKULSKI, Mr. CARDIN, and Mr. LEVIN) submitted the following resolution; which was considered and agreed to
Passed with Unanimous Consent of the U.S. Senate 3/15/2010
Other commendations for her bravery and perseverance include:
* SS Harriet Tubman – a Liberty ship launched in 1944
*Commemoration in a calendar of saints by the Episcopal Church
*Named one of the most famous civilians in American history in a survey at the end of the twentieth century – third only to Betsy Ross and Paul Revere
*The Harriet Tubman commemorative postage stamp
*Ms. Tubman has been honored with dozens of schools named for her, plaques bearing her likeness are displayed, and parks and civic holidays that are named for her.
When she died in March 1913, Harriet was buried with military honors at Fort Hill Cemetery, Auburn, New York. The keynote speaker at her funeral was Booker T. Washington - the last African-American activist born into slavery.
The woman who was called Moses had everything against her yet didn’t let it keep her from finding freedom for herself and hundreds of others. It did not keep her from changing the world.
Harriett Tubman made America and the rest of the world a better place by breaking the bonds of slavery of one form or another. And she did it with grace, determination, and a never-ending concern for her fellow man.
And that benefits all Americans.
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