Harriet, the Moses of Her People

Harriet, the Moses of Her People

Harriet, the Moses of Her People

Harriet, the Moses of Her People

Synopsis

In 1869, Sarah Hopkins Bradford published Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman. Though often disjointed, this account presented to the public a legendary figure of the Underground Railroad. In 1886, Bradford substantially rewrote the biography at the request of Tubman, who hoped its sales would raise enough funds for the building of a hospital for old and disabled colored people. This second edition, Harriet, the Moses of Her People , provided little new information, but arranged the jumbled narrative of Scenes in chronological order, providing a clearer account of Tubman's life.

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Excerpt

The title I have given my black heroine, in this second edition of her story, viz.: THE MOSES OF HER PEOPLE, may seem a little ambitious, considering that this Moses was a woman, and that she succeeded in piloting only three or four hundred slaves from the land of bondage to the land of freedom.

But I only give her here the name by which she was familiarly known, both at the North and the South, during the years of terror of the Fugitive Slave Law, and during our last Civil War, in both of which she took so prominent a part.

And though the results of her unexampled heroism were not to free a whole nation of bond-men and bond-women, yet this object was as much the desire of her heart, as it was of that of the great leader of Israel. Her cry to the slave-holders, was ever like his to Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” and [Page 4] not even he imperiled life and limb more willingly, than did our courageous and self-sacrificing friend.

Her name deserves to be handed down to posterity, side by side with the names of Jeanne D’Arc, Grace Darling, and Florence Nightingale, for not one of these women, noble and brave as they were, has shown more courage, and power of endurance, in facing danger and death to relieve human suffering, than this poor black woman, whose story I am endeavoring in a most imperfect way to give you.

Would that Mrs. Stowe had carried out the plan she once projected, of being the historian of our sable friend; by her graphic pen, the incidents of such a life might have been wrought up into a tale of thrilling interest, equaling, if not exceeding her world renowned “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

The work fell to humbler hands, and the first edition of this story, under the title of “Harriet Tubman,” was written in the greatest possible haste, while the writer was preparing for a voyage to Europe. There was pressing need for this book, to save the poor woman’s little home from being sold under a mortgage, and letters and facts [Page 5] were penned down rapidly . . .

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