Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

March 15, 1913

On March 15, 1913, the Baltimore Afro-American reported on the death of Harriet Tubman, the “Queen of the Underground.”  “Of pure Ashantee blood, she was born on a plantation in Dorchester County, Maryland. At the early age of thirteen her instinctive antagonism against the tyranny of master over slave caused her to protest at the brutality of an overseer who pursued a slave with a club. The overseer knocked her down.” As an adult Tubman escaped to the North, but “dared to go back to the land of bondage to show others the path to Freedom. It was not long before throughout the plantations of Maryland and Virginia were spread rewards for a Negro woman who was luring the slaves from their masters. The price for the capture, dead or alive of Harriet Tubman rose to over $40,000 but she was never taken. She made over nineteen trips into the very heart of the country where the head money was offered. She continued this work until the beginning of the civil war.” Later the Afro-American mentioned Tubman’s “enormous physical strength” and described how she rescued an enslaved man who was in policy custody: “Breaking through the police line she seized the prisoner under the armpits and began to drag him down the street...A policeman hit her on the head with his club, and, freeing one hand, she knocked him back into the crowd. Another jumped for her, but she caught him about the neck, throttled him, and threw him over her shoulder” (click to view PDF).

The Afro-American sub-headline noted, “In many ways she proved herself to be one of the foremost woman of her times.” The Philadelphia Tribune offered similar praise: “It was a wonderful life and scarcely matched in the whole annals of the great fight for freedom before the War of the Rebellion, and one that parents should teach their children to know.”

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