Maryland’s Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman, a slave and a Republican, is replacing President Andrew Jackson, a southern Democrat, on the front of the $20 bill. The Treasury Department announced that President Jackson’s portrait will be moved to the back of the bill where he’ll share the space with the White House.

Harriet Tubman was born, historians think, in 1822 to a Dorchester County, Maryland, family of slaves near the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. She was the middle of nine children. At about the age of 27, she escaped and started the Underground Railroad, helping her family, then other slaves, escape to freedom.

During the Civil War, she was a nurse, a cook, and a scout, gathering intelligence for the Union. After the war, she was an activist in support of women’s suffrage. She died in 1913 and was buried with military honors, according to the Treasury Department.

Maryland has a number of places to visit that tell Harriet Tubman’s story. There’s a small Harriet Tubman museum in Cambridge, Maryland

Harriet Tubman museum, Cambridge, MD
Harriet Tubman museum in Cambridge, Maryland

The Maryland Park Service is working with the National Park Service in building a Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center on 17 acres near Blackwater Wildlife Refuge. That’s close the where she grew up. It’s expected to open March of 2017.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center
Harriet Tubman visitor center under construction on Route 335 near Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (photo courtesy VisitDorchester.org)

And you can follow her Underground Railroad route around the Chesapeake Bay using the Harriet Tubman Byway Guide put together by Dorchester County.

Painting of Harriet Tubman's Underground Railroad
Slaves traveled along the Underground Railroad in this painting c. 1893 in the Cincinnati Art Museum by Charles T. Webber. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Here’s what you’ll see and experience these days on the Byway.

Harriet Tubman, full-length portrait, standing with hands on back of a chair. Between ca. 1860 and 1875. Photo Credit: Library of Congress portrait of Harriet Tubman is from a photograph taken around 1887 in Boston. (Photo Credit: Ohio History Connection (OHC), dated circa 1887 by H.G. Smith, Studio Building, Boston.) Photograph of Andrew Jackson statue in Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C. Photo Credit: Chris Taylor, Department of the Treasury Photograph of Andrew Jackson statue in Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C. Photo Credit: Chris Taylor, Department of the Treasury
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portrait of Harriet Tubman is from a photograph taken around 1887 in Boston. (Photo Credit: Ohio History Connection (OHC), dated circa 1887 by H.G. Smith, Studio Building, Boston.)
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