(Cymbal rings) (woman singing) ♪ Go down, Moses way down ♪ ♪ in Egypt's land Tell ole Pharaoh ♪ (sound of flash) ♪ Let my people go ♪ (soft inquisitive music) (fire blazing) (metal clanging) [Kate Larson] She would hear voices.
She would hear singing.
She would see fire burning, or she would hear water rushing.
(water rushing) [Angela Crenshaw] She would have very, very vivid dreams of her flying over fields as a free woman.
[Harriet Tubman] God's time is always near.
He set the North Star in the heavens.
He gave me the strength in my limbs.
He meant...I should be free.
(thunder clasp) [Jeffrey Ludwig] She often believes that these voices and visions are...are direct from the divine when she's in the open on the Underground Railroad.
[Kristen T. Oertel] Her visions did mark her path at different points and frankly, often gave her a sense of invincibility.
(sound of flash) (single breath) [Chris Haley] She was a very small woman, (crow cawing) she was no larger than five feet tall (chuckles) but she was able to escape and free 70 or more persons back and forth, and back and forth, knowing that each and every time she was risking her life and risking the lives of those persons that she brought with her.
[Ludwig] Harriet Tubman is famous as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
But she was also a leading abolitionist, a friend of some of the most powerful men and women reformers and radicals of her day, a suffragette, a spy, a scout, she's a Civil War soldier.
[Karen Hill] One of the things that Harriet believed in is that God didn't mean for anybody to be a slave.
Freedom should be universal.
It should be universal.
(soft inquisitive music) ♪ ♪ [Tubman] In the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Dorchester County is where I was born.
I remember, I prayed to God to make me strong and able to fight and that's what I've prayed for ever since.
♪ ♪ [Narrator] In 1822, an enslaved couple named Ben and Rit welcomed a little girl named Araminta.
The new baby was born in Maryland.
In the states to the north, slavery was already outlawed, while Maryland and the states to the south relied on enslaved labor.
[Erica Dunbar] Maryland was in transition in the 19th century and more specifically on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where enslavers typically had smaller plots of land, smaller numbers of enslaved people working their farms.
It really created a different kind of economy.
One that required many enslavers to rent out the people they called their property.
Harriet Tubman, by the time she's five, six years old she becomes caught up in that web of being hired out.
♪ Hmmmmm, Hmmmmm, Ohhhh ♪ [Marisa Fuentes] A childhood experience in slavery is not a childhood.
The idea here is that slavery was a profit driven industry and slave owners extracted the most profit from all of their enslaved people throughout their lives.
♪ Well, I wonder will I ever get back home again ♪ [Mia Bay] Harriet Tubman's experience of a child was particularly hard.
She did things like work in the swamps catching muskrats, where she got very sick and contracted measles and eventually became so ill, she had to be sent home.
♪ Well, it must have been a devil who put me here, Yeaaa ♪ [Larson] She was required to clean the house at six years old.
Um, she didn't know how to clean a house.
She also had to babysit a colicky baby who would cry a lot.
And every time the baby cried, then the mistress would whip um, six-year-old Minty.
♪ Yeaaa, Oh Lord ♪ [Cheryl LaRoche] Life indoors can be dangerous.
You know this whole business about people in the house having privilege, people in the house are exposed to the slaveholder constantly.
When Tubman talks about being with these white women who are enslaving her, it's the wrath and the violence of these women that are visiting upon this child.
♪ ♪ [Farah Griffin] We certainly have myths of white mistresses being the kind slave owner-- are, you know, aren't as cruel as their husbands.
In truth...oftentimes, women were just as cruel, if not more so.
They identified with their husbands.
They identified with white supremacy, with white men.
And they had the access which allowed for a greater kind of intimate cruelty on a day to day basis.
(woman singing) ♪ No more, My Lord No more, My Lord ♪ [Narrator] Young Minty came to prefer working outdoors, where she could breathe just a little freer.
♪ Lord I'll never turn back... ♪ [Narrator] She relished any chance to work outside alongside her father Ben, who was forced to live apart from the family because he was enslaved by different owners.
[Haley] At the core of slavery is the disunion of the family unit.
It was, 'I'm going to sell your little girl, if you, if you don't obey me.'
Then, that's the fear.
[Erica Dunbar] Families like Araminta's could be separated, really at the drop of a dime.
Sometimes, you were sold...away from your family and...and friends never to be heard from again.
So that concern about, uh...sale was something that struck fear, terror, into the hearts of men and women all around the Chesapeake.
(solemn music) [Dunbar] One of the things happening throughout the early part of the 19th century was the tremendous growth of cotton production.
How that completely transformed the lives of enslaved people.
How it moved men and women further south to grow what was basically white gold across the Southern landscape.
[Narrator] The fear of being sold to the Deep South was real and ever present for enslaved people in Maryland, like Minty and everyone she knew.
[Larson] Slave sales were constant, every week they were going on.
(somber music) Slave traders from the Deep South would roam the Eastern Shore of Maryland, for instance, and purchase...um...enslaved people and take them to the Deep South.
♪ ♪ And enslaved people in Maryland knew that, that was a death sentence.
The average lifespan for an enslaved person who was purchased in the Chesapeake and brought to Mississippi or Louisiana, uh, was about seven years.
(people chattering) (music from street) [Mia Bay] Buying slaves was something that people participated in very enthusiastically.
Slave auctions were kind of a social occasion in which a lot of people would come around, sort of look and see what was there.
Buying a slave was something that many Whites saw as sort of a realization of sort of all their hopes about sort of future wealth because they thought that slaves were an investment.
(people chattering) [Narrator] By 1860, the assessed value of enslaved people was more than three billion dollars, more than all industry in the North combined.
Prices for enslaved people varied by sex, size, age, and health.
Women aged 16 to 24 often commanded the highest prices at markets throughout the South, because their bodies had the potential to create more wealth for their owners.
[Dale Green] Typically, the slave market was situated within the environment of the court house, the green, the public lawn where the enslaved are bought, sold, and traded.
[Oertel] The reality and the brutality of slavery was front and center.
You know, a woman who's hysterical and crying because she's about to be sold away from her children, that's out in the open air for anyone to see.
(eerie music) [Narrator] Minty witnessed the horror firsthand.
She watched, helplessly, as her older sisters Linah and Soph were dragged away in chains, screaming, their children ripped from their arms.
It was a memory that would haunt her for the rest of her life.
(tense music) [Adam Goodheart] She lived under constant threat, constant terror of being separated forever from her loved ones.
When you imagine the psychological impact that this had on a small child, it was a life of...of terror, of violence, of separation, and oppression.
(suspenseful music) [Narrator] When Minty Ross was about thirteen, she paid a visit to a store in Bucktown, Maryland; one she had likely entered countless times before.
But this visit was different.
A chance encounter would change her life forever.
[Marisa Fuentes] So, she was in a general store when an enslaved boy runs in being chased by his owner or overseer.
And she is being asked to hold on to him.
[Dunbar] She refuses to do it.
The overseer is so furious, he picks up ah, a heavy metal weight and he hurls it in the direction of the enslaved man who's, who's run.
But it connects with Arminta's head.
It literally fractures her skull.
[Tubman] "They carried me to the house, all bleeding and fainting.
I had no bed, no place to lie on at all.
And I stayed there all day and next."
[Larson] It took her months to recover.
She had no medical care.
And it left her suffering with seizures her entire life, and horrific headaches.
And sometimes these seizures would come upon her without notice.
She'd be in the field working and she would just fall to the ground and she would have tremendous visionary activity.
She sometimes felt that she was floating above the earth, and looking down at the people watching her lying on the ground.
[Dunbar] We don't think about Harriet Tubman as someone who lived with a disability, but she did.
She sometimes referred to them as sleeping spells.
And it was during these sort of moments of either semi or unconsciousness that she would see things, that she understood as signposts from her God.
[Fergus Bordewich] The visionary side of Harriet Tubman conflated, with the intense religiosity of the time and place so that her visions had a religious dimension and she interpreted them as religious.
(solemn music) [Narrator] As soon as Minty regained her health, her owner, Edward Brodess, hired her out again.
But as she got older, Minty saw a way to use Brodess' greed to her advantage.
She offered to pay him a yearly fee for the privilege of hiring herself out to masters of her own choosing.
And her world started to open.
[Larson] She worked in the house and then in their fields, and they were merchants and shipbuilders, and so they sent her to the docks and she would load and unload things from the ships coming into port.
And she became very, very strong.
Eventually, she was allowed to work in the forest with her father who was an expert lumberjack, timber foreman, and ship carpenter.
And um, she became even stronger and more capable.
[Douglas Armstrong] She wasn't just in one locality, but moving around from place to place.
It wouldn't have been shocking to see Harriet Tubman on the roads in, in Dorchester County.
Um, and she knew the landscape because of her travels.
[LaRoche] She's a woman who's outside.
The watermen that she may be interacting with from the Chesapeake are... Watermen are very knowledgeable, worldly people, they carry the information because they're on the information highway which is the waters.
So, she may have gleaned quite a bit of information from these watermen.
(inquisitive music) [Narrator] In many ways, the border state of Maryland was unique.
There was a large network of over 60,000 free Blacks, who lived and worked side by side with nearly 90,000 enslaved.
In this mix of enslaved and free, the taste of freedom was real and tangible.
[Bay] One of the distinctive features of being enslaved in Maryland is that you're enslaved in one of the border states, so you're not very far from freedom at any point.
[Fuentes] And that possibility kind of changed the way that you could experience, um, your enslavement.
That there was a hopefulness, perhaps, that you carried with you.
(gentle music) [Narrator] Around 1844, Minty met a free Black man named John Tubman.
When they married, Araminta Ross became Harriet Tubman.
[Dunbar] When we think about the union between an enslaved woman and a free man, we automatically say, "Why on earth would a free person, a free man, make the decision to marry an enslaved woman?
Why would he do that?
Why would he ensure that any children they were to have would be enslaved?"
(church bell chimes) [Dunbar] And I always sort of answer that question with a one word answer, which is "love."
(tower bell chimes) [Narrator] In the fall of 1849, Harriet's owner, Edward Brodess, died, leaving his widow deeply in debt.
(dramatic music) [Narrator] Enslaved people knew that the death of a master meant trouble for them.
Human property was often used to settle debts.
After Harriet watched the widow Brodess sell one group of enslaved people at auction, she decided to leave everyone, and everything she knew and loved - to run.
(dramtic music) [Rev.
Paul Carter] She tried to convince her husband, John, to go along with her, but he was not having any of that.
I don't think he was ready to make that trip to the North, understanding that if he was captured, then all the freedom that he did have would be taken instantly.
(crunching of leaves under footsteps) (eerie music) [Narrator] On September 17, 1849 leaving her husband John behind, Harriet Tubman stole away into the night with her two brothers, Ben and Henry.
♪ Oh, Run Run Mourner, Run, Bright Angel Above ♪ ♪ Oh, Run Run Mourner, Run ♪ [Narrator] As soon as Eliza Brodess found that they were gone, she posted a reward for their capture.
[Ed Baptist] Ran away from the subscriber on Monday the 17th.
Three Negroes named as follows.
Harry, aged about 19 years.
Ben, aged about 25 years, is very quick to speak when spoken to.
Minty, aged about 27 years, is of a chestnut color, fine looking at about five feet high.
100 dollars' reward will be given for each of the above named Negroes, Eliza Ann Brodess near Bucktown, Dorchester County, Maryland.
That ad is what we call a runaway ad.
This is one of between 100,000 and 200,000 such ads that were placed before the end of slavery.
[Griffin] It's a lie when they said people just accepted slavery and didn't resist because they're a genre in and of themselves.
♪ Bright angel above... ♪ They tell us a great deal about the owners, what the owners valued, what the owners found problematic.
Some of them will talk about their...someone's arrogance or someone's concern with their appearance or someone's feistiness.
♪ Escape for your life... ♪ [Baptist] But I think, they were effective.
The vast majority of runaways were recaptured.
♪ Oh, Run Run Mourner, Run Bright Angel, Above ♪ ♪ Oh, Run Run Mourner, Run Bright Angel, Above ♪ ♪ If I just had to wait, Bright Angel, Above ♪ ♪ If I just had to wait ♪ [LaRoche] The ways to deter escaping are, there's a long list.
♪ Bright angel above... ♪ There is of course, death, whipping, and of course, being maimed.
You know, they cut your Achilles tendon.
They cut off your toes.
There are those slave collars that are put on with the long prongs that get caught in the-in the shrubs and in the thickets.
There's ball and chain.
People get branded, an R on their cheeks.
♪ Escape for your life... ♪ So, there are multiple deterrents.
♪ Escape for your life, Bright Angel... ♪ [Gerard Aching] Enslaved people are living within situations of racial terror.
And that is physical and psychological, that it may not have happened to you, but you've seen it happen to others.
And in that-that spectacle, that's part of the racial terror.
To communicate to everybody on the plantation that you don't cross certain boundaries.
♪ I fly away to the Kingdom Bright Angels Above ♪ ♪ ♪ [LaRoche] When Harriet and her brothers escape, her brothers began to fight with her about the dangers ahead and they weren't sure about the direction.
And she says, "They dragged her back."
(somber music) [Narrator] By returning, she faced sale to the Deep South, severe whipping, or death.
But Tubman didn't stay long.
Within days, she set out again, alone.
This time there would be no turning back.
Tubman would later reflect on her decision.
[Tubman] There was one or two things I had a right to - liberty or death.
If I could not have one, I would have the other.
[LaRoche] She was determined, even at that age, to escape, fi...to remove her body from harm.
You know, the body in slavery is the thing that is the commodity.
And she was determined to get that commodity out of harm's way.
(soft music) [Larson] Her parents, the community, raised her to learn to read the landscape.
She could read the water, the marsh, the grasses.
She could read a field.
Um...she could read the woods.
♪ ♪ [Bordewich] She felt she was guided every step of the way by a higher power - God, angels - manifesting themselves in a visionary way.
Pillar of fire, at one point, pillars of clouds.
An image of a...women in white, reaching to...to take her hand, uh, and to pull her across, implicitly, the line from slavery to freedom.
(soft music) [Narrator] Traveling alone, and mostly on foot at night, she made the journey of about 100 miles from the Eastern Shore of Maryland through woods, marshes, and swamps on her way to Philadelphia.
The moment she crossed from Delaware into Pennsylvania, Harriet Tubman was free.
(inspirational music) [Tubman] When I found, I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person.
There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like, I was in Heaven.
(horses trotting) (people chattering) (energetic music) [Narrator] For Harriet Tubman, Philadelphia was a different world.
She'd spent time in Baltimore, but never had Tubman seen a city where no one was enslaved.
And Philadelphia was perhaps the most important center in the abolitionist movement.
♪ ♪ Tubman soon made her way to a group of Black abolitionists led by William Still.
Still was regarded as the Father of the Underground Railroad.
[Cohen] He was a member of the anti-slavery society there, and for a decade leading up to the Civil War, he...uh...uh...not only ran a station...um...uh...which sheltered and forwarded people coming into the city, um, but he also recorded their stories.
(soft music) [Cohen] Um...Harriet Tubman, uh, being one of those, um, main people.
[Thomas Garrett] Esteemed Friend - We made arrangements last night, and sent away Harriet Tubman with six men and one woman to be forwarded across the country to the city.
Harriet and one of the men had worn their shoes off their feet.
I will try to get one of our trusty colored men to take them tomorrow morning to the Anti-slavery office.
You can then pass them on.
- Thomas Garrett.
♪ ♪ [Leggett] Whenever an enslaved or runaway got to Philadelphia, they debriefed with William Still.
They want to know, "How did you get here?
What were conditions like on your plantation?
Who helped you?"
[Cohen] So, he wanted to keep a record, not only of these people's stories, but also keep their accounts as a way of them being able to reunite with family.
(horses trotting) ♪ I am an abolitionist Thy glory in the name; ♪ [Tony Cohen] When someone decided to escape, they were not simply freeing themselves from a negative situation, but helping to free a whole class of people.
So, by running, they actually became the first abolitionists.
♪ I am an abolitionist... ♪ [Manisha Sinha] Enslaved people like Harriet Tubman were the original abolitionists.
Even white abolitionists constantly referred to instances of Black resistance to slavery to argue that, that is why we are abolitionists.
So not only were they the first abolitionists, but they are the ones who first converted white Americans into abolition.
[Narrator] At the time Tubman made her escape, abolitionism was gaining momentum.
Challenging the morality of slavery in newspapers and books, from lecterns and pulpits across the nation.
Black formerly enslaved people were powerful advocates.
With the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, escaping became even more difficult.
The law made it a federal crime to offer food or shelter to a runaway and any citizen in any state, North or South, was compelled to report an alleged fugitive to the authorities.
[Chatelain] One of the great tragedies of the fugitive slave law was that it deputized everyday people to become an extension of the system of slavery.
(eerie music) [Aching] That just creates a huge amount of anxiety in the communities of people who freed themselves, around Philadelphia, around New York City, and knowing that at any point since a claim could be made on them by a slaveholder, now they have to think about heading north to Canada to escape even that.
♪ I'm on my way to Canada, that cold and dreary land.
♪ ♪ The dire effects of slavery, I can no longer stand ♪ [Ludwig] The Fugitive Slave Act is the shadow that looms over everything else Tubman does.
She begins to enter the speaking circuit, rubbing elbows with, now not just planners from the Underground Railroad but national figures, like Frederick Douglass.
Like, Sojourner Truth telling these stories, horrors of slavery galvanizing a response, pumping up the growing abolitionist movement.
[LaRoche] She apparently was a fabulous storyteller and people just hung on her every word.
She's spinning these stories; she's got the dialect and she's got this, this amazing set of experiences that she's had.
[Narrator] Harriet Tubman took her place among the many abolitionists building public support for the cause.
But she quickly grew impatient with the lecture circuit.
For Tubman the dire situation of enslaved people called for immediate, direct action.
[Tubman] "I have heard their groans and sighs, and seen their tears, and I would give every drop of blood in my veins to free them."
[Gloria Browne-Marshall] She didn't wait.
She didn't decide that she's going to wait until Congress determined that slavery was a crime, that slavery was morally wrong.
She decided that she was going to take as many people out of that same situation as she could possibly take.
(dogs barking) (pensive dramatic music) [Narrator] Tubman knew that the Fugitive Slave Law would make the stakes even higher.
The roads were crawling with professional slave catchers who now had even greater financial incentive.
Yet, Harriet Tubman returned to Dorchester County.
Her first goal - to bring her husband, John Tubman, out of Maryland.
(dramatic music) [Rev.
Carter] Harriet was...was excited about going to get her husband, John.
Matter of fact, she was so excited that, during that time that she was away, she had saved enough money to be able to purchase him a new suit.
And so, she had a new suit for him, and only to get back to find out that he had taken another wife.
[Larson] She said in lectures that she was so furious, she was going to storm into their home and make a big scene, but then she thought better of it, and she cast him out of her heart.
[LaRoche] It took her a while, the fury was there - she's human - this woman is not a saint.
But she did not waste the trip.
She gathered folks up and took them out of slavery on that trip.
And I think she never looked back.
(footsteps in the woods) (owls hooting) (suspenseful music) [Narrator] Tubman decided to focus all her energy on helping enslaved people navigate the dangerous journey to freedom.
She returned to Maryland, again and again, using every tool at her disposal - traveling in the winter months, when the nights were longer; employing disguises and deception to evade slavers and bounty hunters alike.
Tubman utilized the loose-knit secret network of ordinary people that was called the Underground Railroad.
(Man singing over guitar) ♪ Follow the drinking gourd Follow the drinking gourd ♪ [Bordewich] It included a whole infrastructure of other people who made it possible for the conductors and station masters to safely do their work.
The people who provided money, the people who provided clothing, the people who provided food, uh, the people who lent their wagons.
Follow the drinking gourd For the old man is comin' ' just to carry you to freedom Follow the drinking gourd When the sun comes back, and the first quail calls Follow... [Larson] Some of the misconceptions that people have with the Underground Railroad - that it was all white Quakers that ran the network and that's not true.
It was people of all backgrounds, but the foundation of the Underground Railroad was African Americans themselves.
Follow the drinking gourd [Larson] And in the South it definitely was African Americans who were running the Underground Railroad network because in the South, white people who were friendly and wanted to help people escape were...were not that common.
So, the people who wanted to flee were dependent on their loved ones and other African Americans that they could trust.
(guitar music) [Bay] And we know less about Black participation because Blacks had to be particularly secretive and careful when they helped people on the Underground Railroad.
Um...you know, they were very vulnerable to all sorts of punishment, including being enslaved, or being targeted by slave traders.
For the old man is waiting just to carry you to freedom If you follow the drinking gourd [Larson] Harriet Tubman was denied a formal education but she did have great literacy.
Her father helped train her to survive in the woods and to read that landscape.
Her mother, of course, was really important, teaching her folk medicines.
(gentle music) [Larson] She grew up in a maritime community.
And of course, those sailors all knew how to navigate by the stars, so she learned about the night sky.
Sometimes, her rescue missions would be four days, and other times it could take weeks.
[Leggett] Harriet Tubman did a lot of her work at night.
And not only was it on land, but also used the marshes and the creeks and the waterways (horse whinnies) because the hound dogs had a hard time trying to follow the scent.
(waves rippling) (ducks calling) [Fredara Hadley] Lots of Black people were baptized in rivers and streams.
Wade in the water is a song that we would sing to ease people into the water to be baptized.
And so, it comes to have that double meaning.
Wade in the water can start with a low moan or a low hum... (starts to hum) And so, if someone is just kind of moaning and motioning for people to move past or if everybody is kind of singing it softly... (starts to sing softly).
♪ Wade in the water Wade in the water ♪ ♪ Wade in the water children Wade in the water ♪ ♪ God is gonna trouble these waters ♪ ♪ See that band all dressed in white ♪ [Karen Hill] To be a conductor on the Underground Railroad, like Harriet Tubman, you had to really teach those under your care how they need to behave in every possible circumstance.
And she was clear that once you start this path towards freedom, there was no turning back.
♪ Wade in the water ♪ ♪ God is gonna trouble the water ♪ [Bordewich] Famously, when a freedom seeker traveling with her got cold feet, she pulled out a pistol and threatened to use it on them.
Because nobody would be more dangerous to Harriet Tubman than somebody who had come partway with her, given up, and then gone back into slavery.
♪ Wade in the water ♪ [Green] She was short and she was small and she was a woman.
That pistol gave many of those who were running for their lives a great level of confidence in that she was clearly in charge.
♪ My Lord delivered Daniel well ♪ ♪ Daniel well, Daniel well ♪ [Baptist] A whole mythology has grown up around the Underground Railroad, but you've got to say what Harriet Tubman was doing is something ah, that's, that's much more like a military raid.
♪ Daniel well, ♪ ♪ My Lord delivered Daniel well ♪ [Leggett] Harriet Tubman knew how to use the disguises and subterfuge.
I mean, she was brilliant!
♪ Man went down to the river lord ♪ [Dunbar] She never accepted praise or responsibility even for these great feats.
She always saw herself as a vessel of her God.
[Aching] There's a fearlessness there.
There's a conviction there.
She herself knew that she could be captured at any moment, but she did not waver about it, you know, she knew that her prayers would be answered.
♪ God's gonna trouble these waters ♪ [Ludwig] The last of the approximate 13 trips that Harriet Tubman makes is as a Civil War is just beginning.
Very late in 1860, Lincoln has been elected, but not yet inaugurated.
You could cut the tensions in this country with a knife.
Harriet Tubman has already purchased a home in New York, in Auburn.
And Harriet's main purposes for returning, very dangerous to Dorchester County and the Eastern Shore, were to bring others, but especially her family, to freedom.
(solemn music) And time and time again, Harriet has tried unsuccessfully to liberate her sister, Rachel.
Carter] Well, when she goes down there this time to get her sister and her children, she comes to find out that her sister Rachel had died just a few months prior to her coming down.
And, of course, she was floored when she found that out.
But while she was there, she made the decision again, not let's not waste this journey.
And there was the family, the Ennals family that was ready to go.
The husband, wife, and three children.
[Angela Crenshaw] She was very to the point, "my name is Harriet Tubman.
I'm here to take you to freedom.
You need to follow me and we need to move right now."
We are in trouble - this entire time we are being watched."
(footsteps in woods) (dogs bark) [Larson] It was a very difficult journey.
It was cold.
Tubman had to give paregoric, which is an opiate, to the baby to keep it from crying while they hid in the woods and in swamps.
[Crenshaw] (sings) ♪ Go down Moses, ♪ ♪ way down into Egypt's land, tell 'ole Pharaoh ♪ ♪ to let my people go.
♪ And when she sung that refrain, people knew that they could stand up and move forward and continue their journey to freedom.
(woman singing over piano) ♪ Go down Moses ♪ ♪ way down in Egypt land Tell ole, Pharaoh ♪ ♪ Let my people go Go down Moses way down... ♪ [Narrator] Tubman made at least 13 secret missions into slave-holding Maryland.
Her vision of freedom had become a reality for at least 70 people.
By 1860, the number of enslaved people directly helped by Harriet Tubman was about to explode.
(dramatic military music) [Narrator] Within months of Lincoln's election, the Southern states had seceded and formed the Confederate States of America.
And in April 1861, the simmering argument over slavery erupted into armed conflict.
(suspenseful music) [Narrator] Tubman was closely watching the politics of the moment.
In January 1863, when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, she knew it would not be enough.
She'd already concluded that the south would never be talked out of slavery, the only way to end it would be war.
(dark orchestra music) [Dunbar] The Emancipation Proclamation only granted "freedom" to those enslaved people who lived in states that had seceded from the Union.
But for states like Maryland, Delaware, states that were called border states, that still had slavery but had not joined up with the Confederacy, Lincoln understood that he could not place the Emancipation Proclamation onto these border states.
If he did...they would more than almost certainly jump to the Confederate side, so he strategically left these border states to hold onto their slaves while the war raged.
(cannons firing) [Narrator] By the time of Lincoln's proclamation, Tubman was already engaged in the war effort - lecturing, nursing wounded soldiers, and encouraging Black men to aid in the cause.
But she wanted to do more.
(dramatic military music) [Larson] During those lecture circuits throughout New England, she had met the governor of Massachusetts, John Andrew.
And when the war started, he immediately thought of Tubman and that she needed to go into the South and help the United States army.
So, he made arrangements for her to go to South Carolina.
[Narrator] At first, Tubman spent her time nursing Black soldiers and providing for the droves of ex-slaves fleeing Southern plantations for Union territory.
Then, she became a spy.
Using knowledge gained from the newly free people, Tubman recruited and led a team of eight Black scouts, gathering critical intelligence for the Union Army.
[Fuentes] With all of that interaction with formerly enslaved people, she was able to get the lay of the land.
And get specific information about where the Confederate army was stationed, what kinds of weapons that they had.
She was gathering intelligence.
And she would share that with these Union officers.
[Narrator] In June of 1863, General Tubman, as John Brown called her, set into motion one of the most daring and successful raids of the War.
Northern and Southern newspapers related breathless accounts of Colonel Montgomery's campaign on the Combahee River in South Carolina, led by Harriet Tubman.
[Combahee Reporter] Colonel Montgomery and his gallant band of 300 Black soldiers under the guidance of a Black woman, dashed into the enemy's country, struck a bold and effective blow, (cannons firing) brought off nearly 800 slaves and thousands of dollars worth of property, without losing a man or receiving a scratch.
It was a glorious consummation.
(dramatic music) [Rev.
Carter] It was kind of an Exodus moment.
Harriet saw the people coming to get on the boats, and some of the women would be running with a kid hanging off of their skirt, and one of them hanging off the hand.
She said that one lady had a pot on her head and with rice in it, and it just like she took it right off the stove and put it on her head and she was running with this.
And people were coming off the plantations, so regularly that the...the military thought that they were going to sink the boats.
[Combahee Reporter] The Colonel was followed by a speech from the Black woman who led the raid, and under whose inspiration it was originated and conducted.
Her address would do honor to any man and it created a great sensation.
She is now called "Moses".
[Narrator] At least 727 men, women and children made it onto the Union boats, making General Tubman's raid one of the largest liberations of the War, and marking the first major military operation in American history that was planned and executed by a woman.
(woman singing) ♪ Oh Freedom, oh freedom, oh freedom, over me ♪ ♪ And before I'd be a slave, I'd be buried in my grave ♪ ♪ And go home to my Lord and be free ♪ [Ludwig] Who knew what was going to come in the aftermath of the Civil War?
Tubman predicted the end of slavery and it came to pass.
And so now, the rebuild, the reconstruction, reunification, bringing North and South together after four years of bloody conflict, and 800,000 dead, and 4.2 million men and women freed from their bondage.
What is that going to look like?
(dramatic music) [Narrator] As Black families struggled to build new lives in freedom, it quickly became clear that the battle for equality had just begun.
(train bell rings) (train whistle blows and train chugs) [Rev.
Carter] After the war was over, she leaves Fort Monroe.
After being there, and it was all said and done, she wanted to come back home to be with her family.
She's on a train, has a special ticket, half-price ticket that she could ride on the train, any car that she wants to ride on.
And so, she goes to sit in a car and gets comfortable.
[Fuentes] The conductor told her to get out of the mixed car into the smoking car.
And she refused.
And while she refused, she realized, "Oh, we're about to fight."
(train chugs) [Rev.
Carter] He tries to take her off of her seat, this four-foot eleven, five-foot woman, and because Harriet is who she is, strong as an ox, he couldn't do it.
[Fuentes] He called for reinforcements, other conductors and other passengers, and they ended up throwing her down, breaking her arm and some ribs.
(train chugs) (bell rings) [Fuentes] And she was able to find her way to New York, but with dire injuries.
This was a real humiliation of her dignity, but also a violent act that she suffered.
[Ludwig] So, she ends the Civil War on this incredible low note of...uh the new taste of the segregation and the new modes of discrimination that were going to emerge immediately out of the carcass of slavery.
There is going to be no utopia of equality.
Now, race-based discrimination is going to take this form.
(somber music) [Narrator] Injured but unbroken, Tubman returned to her home in Auburn, New York, to take up the struggle in new ways.
Carter] It's hard to stop a calling.
She believed that it was better to live for a cause than just because.
And this whole thing of seeing people free and fighting for equality and justice, and, and the right to live free, was just something that was within her.
[Browne-Marshall] Harriet Tubman took justice.
I just see her as someone who epitomizes not waiting until justice catches up to the situation.
She used her home in upstate New York to shelter elderly, formerly-enslaved people who couldn't take care of themselves.
And she was a suffragette for the women's right to vote.
[Larson] She was very close to Susan B. Anthony, and at one convention, Harriet Tubman was brought on stage by Anthony, and Tubman said her most famous words (woman humming underneath), "I was a conductor on the Underground Railroad for eight years and I can say what most conductors can't.
I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger."
(woman singing) ♪ I am bound, I am bound ♪ [Narrator] For the last two years of her life, Harriet Tubman was cared for in the home she'd founded to care for others.
♪ I am bound, I am bound ♪ [Narrator] In her lifetime, she had been enslaved and led battles in a bloody war.
She'd witnessed the introduction of the telephone and electric lights.
And Harriet Tubman had made history.
Her singular contribution was recognized by her fellow revolutionary, Frederick Douglass.
[Frederick Douglass] (woman humming underneath) Dear Harriet - The difference between us is very marked.
Most that I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been in public.
The most you have done has been witnessed by a few trembling, scared and footsore bondmen, and women whom you have led out of the house of bondage, and whose heartfelt, "God bless you," has been your only reward.
The midnight sky and the silent stars have been witnessed to your devotion to freedom and of your heroism.
(woman humming) ♪ I am bound, I am bound ♪ ♪ I am bound... ♪ [Narrator] In 1913, at the age of 91, Harriet Tubman passed away.
♪ I am bound, I am bound ♪ ♪ I am bound for the Promised Land ♪ [Narrator] Freedom fighter, visionary, patriot - Harriet Tubman left behind an audacious legacy of courage that endures.
(woman humming) With her work on the Underground Railroad, and during the War, she helped over 1000 African Americans escape enslavement.
(woman humming) [Chatelain] Harriet Tubman is a hero, because she does not have a blueprint for freedom.
But what she has is incredible conviction and an incredible will to unmask the brutality of slavery and to fight against it.
(woman humming) [Griffin] Harriet Tubman was someone who had these extraordinary capacities for courage, a belief in herself that really was a belief in a divine being that would allow her to do extraordinary things in the world.
She is someone who saw herself as having a purpose and who was on earth to deliver on that purpose, which was the purpose of freeing people.
The purpose of freedom.
♪ I am bound for the promised land ♪ ♪ I am bound, I am bound ♪ ♪ I am bound for the promised land ♪ To order Harriet Tubman Visions of Freedom on DVD visit shopPBS.org or a call 1-800-PLAY-PBS.
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