How Did Harriet Tubman Impact American History?

Harriet Tubman was a prominent figure in American history whose activism and bravery left an indelible mark on the nation. Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland in the early 1820s, and despite facing unimaginable hardship and oppression throughout her life, she emerged as a courageous leader of the abolitionist movement.

Early Life and Escape from Slavery

Tubman’s early life was marked by violence and exploitation. She was forced to work on plantations from a young age, enduring physical abuse and witnessing the brutal mistreatment of her fellow slaves. In 1849, Tubman escaped from slavery with the help of the Underground Railroad, a network of abolitionists who aided escaped slaves in their journey to freedom.

Tubman’s escape from slavery marked the beginning of her lifelong commitment to fighting for justice and freedom.

The Underground Railroad

After escaping slavery herself, Tubman became one of the most important “conductors” on the Underground Railroad, making more than 13 missions to rescue approximately 70 enslaved people, including family members. Tubman’s expertise at navigating through dangerous terrain and avoiding detection made her an invaluable asset to the abolitionist movement.

Tubman’s work on the Underground Railroad not only directly impacted those she helped rescue but also inspired countless others to take action against slavery.

The Civil War

When the Civil War began in 1861, Tubman saw an opportunity to use her skills as a nurse, cook, and spy for the Union Army. She worked tirelessly behind enemy lines to gather intelligence for Union forces and supported efforts to recruit Black soldiers.

Tubman’s contributions during the Civil War helped turn the tide of the conflict toward victory for Union forces.

Later Life

After the end of slavery and conclusion of the Civil War, Tubman continued her activism, advocating for women’s suffrage and the rights of African Americans. She also founded the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged in Auburn, New York, providing a safe haven for elderly African Americans.

Tubman’s tireless work and dedication to justice and equality continue to inspire activists and change-makers today.


Harriet Tubman was a trailblazer in American history whose bravery and activism paved the way for progress toward justice and equality. Her legacy continues to inspire generations of people working to create a better world.