Celebrating Harriet Tubman – America’s Legendary “Moses”

Plan a historic trip to learn about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad for her 200th birthday

She never knew the exact day she was born. Nobody bothered to write it down or tell her. But we honor Harriet Tubman on March 10 and celebrate her 200th birthday throughout the month of March 2022.

One of the most famous names in American history, Harriet Tubman is an icon that many of us know little about. And much of what we know is based on inaccurate lore that evolved over the years.

Born into slavery in Dorchester County Maryland in 1822, Harriet Tubman began her journey into history in 1849 when, at the age of 27, she escaped slavery, finding her way north to Philadelphia.

But everything in her life to this point made Harriet Tubman the hero we know of her today.

When she was five years old, she was rented out to a neighbor to help care for a white baby. When the baby would cry, 5-year-old Harriet was whipped.

“I used to sleep on the floor and cry and cry. If I could only get home to my mother’s bed,” she later wrote.

When she was 12 and rented out to another farmer, Harriet was sent to the store for supplies. While there, a young, enslaved boy was running to escape a whipping from his owner. The white man told Harriet to grab him, but she refused, and he escaped. The man picked up a weight from the store counter and threw it, hitting Harriet in the head.

She was unconscious for days and suffered from narcolepsy for the rest of her life. The visions she saw that helped her lead others to freedom are attributed to this head injury. But this is considered her first act of resistance to slavery.

The Bucktown General Store where this incident happened still stands and is one stop on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway that crisscrosses through Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.

The byway has 45 stops, many of them a historic marker telling the story of buildings that once stood and how they are a part of the Harriet Tubman legacy. But in traveling this trail, you learn the depth of her journeys and her struggle for freedom.

One of the more visual spaces that represents a powerful story is a massive mural painted on the exterior rear wall of the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center in Cambridge, Maryland.

Artist Michael Rosato was inspired by Tubman, recounting how she rescued her niece and nephew who were being sold at auction on the courthouse steps. The auction paused for lunch and with white owners paying little attention, Harriet simply walked up and led the children to a waiting rowboat on the Choptank River. She rowed them to freedom.

According to Rosato, the image of Harriet’s extended hand in the mural represents his attempt to bring past and present together in understanding her important story. There is also a North Star in the upper right corner of the mural.

In researching Tubman in preparation for this project, Rosato said “this little black woman who lived 200 years ago taught this white guy about courage.”

Name: Harriet Tubman was born “Arminta” and known as “Minty.” She changed her name to Harriet sometime in the 1840s to honor her mother, Harriet.

Impact: Harriet Tubman rescued 70 people from slavery on 13 different trips to Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Myth: Harriet Tubman never used the quilt code of the Underground Railroad. It is considered a myth.

Service: She worked for the Union Army during the Civil War as a nurse, cook, spy and scout. She led an armed raid in South Carolina in 1863 that freed 700 enslaved people.

Watch: The movie “Harriet,” available on Netflix, starring Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom, Jr., is a fairly accurate, albeit truncated portrayal of her life.

“I prayed to God to make me strong and able to fight, and that’s what I’ve always prayed for ever since.” – Harriet Tubman, 1865

Plan Your Trip

How to get there

United, American and Southwest offer direct flights from Kansas City to Baltimore. A rental car is necessary to access these various sites.

The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park


A few miles east of Cambridge near Church Creek in Maryland’s farm country is one of the National Park Service’s tributes to Harriet Tubman. Opened in 2017, the interpretive center moves visitors from south to north, from darkness to light, as it tells the story of Tubman’s life and service to others.

The NPS plans special birthday events on March 11, 12, and 13.

Wilmington Delaware


Wilmington is a valuable destination in understanding the Harriet Tubman and Underground Railroad story. It is here she met and worked with Thomas Garrett, a white abolitionist credited with helping 2,500 individuals arrive in the free North. Among other contributions, he was known to provide new shoes to each freedom seeker.

Stop at the Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park on the Christina River to learn more and see the massive sculpture dedicated to the two.

A guided walking tour of the Quaker Hill Historic District in Wilmington highlights individuals and institutions that contributed to the fight for freedom in this area, just a few miles from the Pennsylvania border.

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