born c. 1822

Harriet Tubman grew up a plantation slave. She was hired out for hard labor from age 5, dealt abuse that left permanent scars, including a brain injury {a type of epilepsy}, and her siblings were sold away from the family. When she decided to escape, she didn't settle for her own freedom.

Harriet repeatedly put her life + liberty on the line to make dangerous return trips South. She directly helped to emancipate several hundred slaves, both as a conductor for the Underground Railroad and as a Union scout in the Civil War. 

Later in life, even as a celebrated public figure, she never stopped championing race + gender equality, inspiring others to fight for freedom.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Harriet Tubman (12)

"I grew up like a neglected weed,—ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it."

A North-Side View of Slavery | 1855

"I prayed to God to make me strong and able to fight, and that's what I've always prayed for ever since."

Tubman to Ednah Dow Cheney | 1865

"...the good Lord has come down to deliver my people, and I must go and help him."

Some Recollections of our Antislavery Conflict | january 1869

"Lord, I'm going to hold steady on to you, and I know you'll see me through."

Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman | 1869

"There's two things I've got a right to and these are, Death or Liberty—one or t'other I mean to have."

Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman | 1869

"I've heard 'Uncle Tom' read, and I tell you Mrs Stowe's pen hasn't begun to paint what slavery is as I have seen it at the far South. I've seen the real thing, and I don't want to see it on no stage or in no theater."

Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman | 1869

"I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person now I was free."

Harriet Tubman, The Moses of Her People | 1886

"I had crossed the line of which I had so long been dreaming. I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom, I was a stranger in a strange land..."

Harriet Tubman, The Moses of Her People | 1886

"I had reasoned this out in my mind; there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty, or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man should take me alive."

Harriet, The Moses of Her People | 1886

"I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can't say—I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger."

Rochester Women's Rights Convention | 1896

"I am at peace with God and all mankind."

last words to Mary Talbert | january 1913

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer."

attributed | january 2014
  • Quotabelle profile
  • Harriet Tubman

curated with care by Alicia Williamson + Shelagh Bolger {september 2014}