Civil Rights and Protests

Slavery and Anti-Slavery

Who was the most successful agent on the Underground Railroad?

American abolitionist, lecturer, and nurse Harriet Tubman (c. 1820–1913) set up a network to emancipate slaves. Tubman was motivated to do so after she had made her way to freedom in 1849, and then wished the same for her family: “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,” she wrote.

For the next ten years Tubman acted as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, making at least fifteen trips into Southern slave states, and guiding not only her parents and siblings, but more than three hundred slaves to freedom in the North. She was called “the Moses of her people” for her emancipation efforts. These journeys to freedom were demanding and often dangerous missions. Though Tubman was small in stature, she possessed extraordinary leadership qualities. Author, clergyman, and army officer Thomas Went-worth Higginson (1823–1911) called her “the greatest heroine of the age.”

Harriet Tubman was a former slave who led about three hundred fellow slaves to freedom using the Underground Railroad, and she was also a Union spy during the American Civil War.


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