A wood carving artwork illustrating Harriet Tubman’s underground rail escape with other slaves.
“…if you hear the dogs keep going, if you see the touch in the woods keep going…if you want a taste of freedom you need to keep going”. Those were the words of Harriet Tubman in a slave break she led in 1856 which attracted a $40,000 reward on her head.
Harriet Tubman an African american anti slave trade crusader who got married in 1844 to John Tubman, a free black man and writer; though little is known about him. Since Harriet was a slave, she knew there could be a chance that she could be sold and her marriage would be split apart. Harriet dreamed of traveling north. There, she would be free and would not have to worry about having her marriage split up by the slave trade. But, John did not want her to go north. He said he was fine where he was and that there was no reason for moving north. She said she would go by herself. He replied with questions like “When it’s nighttime, how will you know which way is north?” and “What will you eat?” He told her that if she ran off, he would tell her master. She did not believe him until she saw his face and then she knew he meant it. Her goal to achieve freedom was too large for her to give up though. So in 1849 she left her husband and escaped to Philadelphia in 1849.
Yesterday-Wednesday April 20th, the US Treasury announced that Harriet Tubman will be the first African-American on the face of U.S. paper currency, and the first woman in more than a century, when she replaces former President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. The U.S. Treasury Department stated further that Tubman, who was born into slavery in the early 1820s and went on to help hundreds of slaves escape, would take the center spot on the bill, while Jackson, a slave owner, would move to the back.
Introduced alongside a slew of changes to the $5 and $10 notes as well, the redesign gives the Treasury “a chance to open the aperture to reflect more of America’s history,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said.
A new $10 bill will add images of five female leaders of the women’s suffrage movement, including Sojourner Truth and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, to the back, while keeping founding father Alexander Hamilton on the front.
The reverse of a new $5 note will show former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., officials said. Former President Abraham Lincoln will remain on the front.
Lew said the designs should be unveiled by 2020 and go into circulation “as quickly as possible,” although he declined to say when. He said the $10 bill was scheduled to go out first, citing security needs.
The long-awaited decision to replace the seventh president of the United States with Tubman followed months of outreach by the Treasury regarding which woman should be featured on a bill.
The debate began when the Treasury announced plans in June to feature a woman on the $10 note, prompted partly by a young girl’s letter to President Barack Obama that criticized the lack of women on U.S. currency and a social media campaign last year called “Women on 20s.”
Hamilton’s growing celebrity status, due largely to a Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical about his life, “Hamilton,” created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, propelled an effort to keep the first U.S. Treasury secretary on the $10 note and to replace Jackson on the $20 bill instead.
Jackson, a hero of the War of 1812’s Battle of New Orleans, was president from 1829-1837. But he has been criticized for his treatment of American Indians and ownership of slaves.
After considering hundreds of candidates, Lew said Tubman was chosen for her leadership and work helping others.
“It’s the essential story of American democracy about how one person who grew up in slavery, never had the benefit of learning how to read or write, could change the course of history,” he said.
Tubman grew up working on a Maryland plantation and escaped in her late 20s. She returned to the South to help hundreds of black slaves to freedom and worked as a Union spy during the Civil War. She died in 1913.
Women have not been depicted on U.S. bills since Martha Washington, who was on the $1 silver certificate from 1891 to 1896, and Pocahontas, who was in a group picture on the $20 bill from 1865 to 1869.
On coins, Sacagawea, a Native American who assisted the Lewis and Clark Expedition, is featured on the gold dollar, and suffragist Susan B. Anthony is on the silver dollar. Deaf-blind author and activist Helen Keller is on the back of the Alabama quarter.
Tubman became the top-trending hashtag on Twitter shortly after the news broke on Wednesday, with more than 100,000 tweets and mentions online. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who is campaigning to become the first female U.S. president, praised Tubman as “a woman, a leader, and a freedom fighter” on Twitter and said she could not think of a better choice.
Some Twitter users applauded Treasury’s decision to keep Hamilton on the $10 bill. Actress Mara Wilson (@MaraWritesStuff) tweeted at Miranda, the “Hamilton” creator, saying: “@Lin_Manuel First you win a Pulitzer, now you’re affecting US currency. Get some rest!” Funny and on Instagram we are already getting memes on the coin like this one on meek mills:
Read more about Harriet Tubman here
Harriet and John Tubman 1844
In or around 1844, Harriet Tubman married a free black man named John Tubman. Although little is known about him or their time together till date, the union was complicated due to her slave status. Since the mother’s status dictated that of children, any children born to Harriet and John would be enslaved. Such blended marriages – free people marrying enslaved people – were not uncommon on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where half the black population was free. Most African American families had both free and enslaved members. Larson suggests that they might have planned to buy Tubman’s freedom.
Tubman changed her name from Araminta to Harriet soon after her marriage, though the exact timing is unclear. Larson suggests this happened right after the wedding, and Clinton suggests that it coincided with Tubman’s plans to escape from slavery. She adopted her mother’s name, possibly as part of a religious conversion, or possibly to honor another relative. Normally, female slaves at a young age were forced to marry a mate chosen by their masters. Because of her injury, Harriet was spared this tradition. However, Harriet, now in her twenties was getting too old to remain unmarried. Having worked and earned her own money, she attracted a free black man named John Tubman, who also worked odd jobs at various plantations. Although marrying a free man was quite unusual for a slave, they permitted Harriet and John to marry. Although forced to do so by her mother, Harriet in 1844, at the age of twenty-four, married John Tubman.
Having married a free man, Harriet thought of nothing but to one day be free herself. Interestingly, they should never have enslaved Harriet. One day, determined to trace her roots, she hired a lawyer at the cost of five dollars to trace the will of her mother’s first master. In doing so, a will was found that gave her mother, Harriet Green, to an heir named Mary Patterson. The will provided that Ms. Green was to serve Mary Patterson until Patterson was forty-five years old. However, Patterson died before reaching this age, and was unmarried. Because there was no provision in the will concerning Harriet Green upon Patterson’s death, she was therefore free. Unfortunately, no one told Ms. Green of this right, consequently she and her children remained enslaved. Harriet Tubman, now armed with this information was now more than ever determined to be free.
Compiled and edited by: Jimmy Adesanya
Additional credits: Kevin Rogers (wikipedia and worldhistory projects), Megan Casella,Timothy Ahmann, Gina Cherelus,Amy Tennery and additional Edits by Toni Reinhold and Peter Cooney all of Reuters.
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