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Harriet Ross was born in 1820 in Bucktown, Maryland. Her parents were of the Ashanti Tribe from West Africa. In 1820 both of her parents were working on the Brodas Plantation in Maryland as slaves, bringing Harriet into a life of slavery as well. The plantation she was born
on was headed by Mr. Edward Brodas who not only produced lumber but also raised slaves to rent and sell. Harriet was first hired out as a laborer at the age of five.

At the age of thirteen Harriet tried to save another slave from receiving punishment, and she herself was punished severely. As punishment she was struck in the head with an iron weight, weighing about two pounds. This injury led her to suffer periodic blackouts for the rest of her
life.

In 1844, in her early twenties, Harriet married John Tubman, a free black man. Although her husband was a free man, Harriet reamined a slave, and was only allowed to stay at her husband’s cabin at night. She lived in fear of being shipped South away from her husband, unfortunately
this fear became a reality in 1849, when Mr. Brodas died and the slaves were being sold. Harriet planned her escape the night she learned of her fate, but could not tell her husband of her plans because she feared he would expose them.

Harriet’s escape was succesful and she settled in Philadelphia, taking a job as a dishwasher. In 1850 Harriet joined the Underground Railroad, after the Fugitive Slave Act was passed by congress, making it illegal to help a slave escape. A year later Harriet returned to Maryland, bringing back her sister’s family with her. Soon after she returned, and helped her brothers to escape to the North. By this time her husband had remarried and refused to go with her. Harriet made the trip south 19 times and freed about 300 slaves, before returning one last time in 1857 to lead her parents to freedom.