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PHOTO ESSAY

Influential Black Women

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Harriet "Moses" Tubman, photograph taken between 1860 and 1875

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The story of the Underground Railroad, a secret trail of safe houses or "stations" in the mid-nineteenth century that led from states where slavery was legal to the free states, is one that captures the urgency and stealthy measures required to rescue slaves from slavery. While many participated in this secretive system, Harriet Tubman has become the most famous "conductor" in this direct-action abolitionism. In 1849, at the age of twenty-seven, Harriet Tubman escaped from the Maryland plantation where she had been held in slavery. Between 1849 and 1860 Tubman made fourteen trips back into slave territory and led seventy to eighty people to freedom. She also helped free fifty others by providing detailed instructions on how to escape undetected.

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