6 Real & Moving Harriet Tubman Quotes To Remember
On Wednesday, reports began swirling that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had come to a decision about two of America's standard bills of currency, the $10, and the $20. And while the front of the $10 will remain unchanged, the front of the $20 will eventually look very, very different: abolitionist and Underground Railroad hero Harriet Tubman will be replacing Andrew Jackson! It's big news, and it seems like perfect timing to reflect — here are six quotes from Harriet Tubman's heroic life.
Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland in 1822 and ultimately escaped in 1849 by way of the Underground Railroad. She then committed herself to furthering that very same cause — working to abolish slavery, and to save as many lives as she could. Accounts vary widely on exactly how many rescue missions she was involved with, but she definitely saved dozens of people — she's been credited by historians with having freed at least 70 slaves over the course of 13 missions.
That's before you even take her service as an armed scout and spy for the Union forces during the Civil War into account. By any measure, Tubman's life looms large over the course of American history, both in a moral and temporal sense — she passed away in 1913 at the age of 91. Here are 6 memorable quotes from this undeniable American hero.
1. "I Was Conductor..."
I was conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can't say — I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.
This is how Tubman described her time in the Underground Railroad while speaking at a suffrage convention in 1896, 24 years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment would guarantee women the right to vote.
2. "...The Next Thing To Hell"
Slavery is the next thing to hell.
Tubman said this in an interview with Benjamin Drew in the city of St. Catharines in Ontario, Canada in 1855. Drew was an abolitionist from Boston who traveled through Canada to report the stories of escaped slaves that had fled to the north.
3. "I Grew Up Like A Neglected Weed..."
I grew up like a neglected weed — ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it. Then I was not happy or contented.
This is another quote that came from Tubman's conversation with Drew, in which she reflected on the condition of being born into a life without any concept of freedom or autonomy.
4. "God's Time Is Always Near..."
God's time is always near. He set the North Star in the heavens; He gave me the strength in my limbs; He meant I should be free.
Tubman was a devout Christian, and spoke of how God "set the North Star" for her freedom and for emancipation, to author Ednah Dow Cheney around 1859. Four years later, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
5. "...For No Man Should Take Me Alive..."
I had reasoned this out in my mind; 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; I should fight for my liberty as long as my strength lasted, and when the time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me.
This stirring passage came from Sarah H. Bradford's 1886 book on Tubman, Harriet, The Moses of Her People.
6. "I Would Give Every Drop Of Blood In My Veins"
I have heard their groans and sighs, and seen their tears, and I would give every drop of blood in my veins to free them.
This quote appeared in Bradford's follow-up to Harriet, Moses of Her People that came out 10 years later, Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman.
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