Some brave men and women battled all odds to help slaves in America escape to freedom in Canada. One such exceptional woman was an American, Harriet Tubman, who guided several slaves to safety using the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes. To honour this brave abolitionist, the U.S. Treasury has decided to use her picture on the new $20 bill, to be released in 2020. She will be replacing former president Andrew Jackson.
History of Harriet Tubman
Born into slavery in 1822, Harriet battled terrible circumstances as a child to become a crusader against slavery. As a slave, she suffered physical abuse at the hands of her employers and even sustained a head injury that caused her lifelong problems. But that did not stop her. In 1849, she escaped to Philadelphia and from then on started her brave journey to rescue slaves starting with her family. She was unstoppable and even the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 did not deter her. Instead of helping the slaves escape to another state, Tubman, also called ‘Moses’, started bringing them to freedom in Canada (then British North America). She also worked as an armed scout and spy at the time of the Civil War during the course of which she led 700 slaves to freedom. After the war, she continued to fight for women’s rights, especially suffrage.
Harriet Tubman’s Time in Niagara
The Underground Railroad ran through many places such as Buffalo and the Suspension Bridge at Niagara Falls. Quite a few people in Buffalo including whites and free blacks helped those escaping to freedom by hiding them in their own homes before the slaves went on to the next stop on the route. Several freedom seekers also crossed the Niagara River from Buffalo to Fort Erie by boats while some would swim to their escape. Tubman and others like her would operate in the night time to bring slaves to safety. The Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge which connected Niagara Falls New York and Niagara Falls Ontario was also used by Tubman who did not let the risk of carrying out this operation bother her. St Catharines was identified as the final destination for several slaves by Tubman and was used for this purpose over a ten year period. She also operated a boarding house in St Catharines to rehabilitate the freed people and helped several of them gain employment. In fact many descendants of the freed African American people live in Ontario today, all due to the courage of Tubman and others like her.
Indeed, Harriet Tubman’s picture on the $20 bill will remind people of the fearless woman who risked her own life to help several others gain freedom.
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