Harriet Tubman quotes

Harriet Tubman photo
17   7

Harriet Tubman

Birthdate: 1820
Date of death: 10. March 1913

Harriet Tubman was an American abolitionist, humanitarian, and an armed scout and spy for the United States Army during the American Civil War. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made some thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy enslaved people, family and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She later helped abolitionist John Brown recruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry, and in the post-war era was an active participant in the struggle for women's suffrage.

Born a slave in Dorchester County, Maryland, Tubman was beaten and whipped by her various masters as a child. Early in life, she suffered a traumatic head wound when an irate slave owner threw a heavy metal weight intending to hit another slave and hit her instead. The injury caused dizziness, pain, and spells of hypersomnia, which occurred throughout her life. She was a devout Christian and experienced strange visions and vivid dreams, which she ascribed to premonitions from God.

In 1849, Tubman escaped to Philadelphia, then immediately returned to Maryland to rescue her family. Slowly, one group at a time, she brought relatives with her out of the state, and eventually guided dozens of other slaves to freedom. Traveling by night and in extreme secrecy, Tubman "never lost a passenger". After the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed, she helped guide fugitives farther north into British North America, and helped newly freed slaves find work.

When the Civil War began, Tubman worked for the Union Army, first as a cook and nurse, and then as an armed scout and spy. The first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, she guided the raid at Combahee Ferry, which liberated more than 700 slaves. After the war, she retired to the family home on property she had purchased in 1859 in Auburn, New York, where she cared for her aging parents. She was active in the women's suffrage movement until illness overtook her and she had to be admitted to a home for elderly African Americans that she had helped to establish years earlier. After she died in 1913, she became an icon of American courage and freedom.

Quotes Harriet Tubman

„I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.“

—  Harriet Tubman

Attributed to Tubman in Dorothy Winbush Riley, My Soul Looks Back 'Less I Forget https://books.google.com/books?id=KpcLAQAAMAAJ&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=%22c.+1865%22 p. 148 (1993). Riley gives a date of "c. 1865" but offers no citation. No source from earlier than 1993 is known. Quoted in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (1999) by Henry Louis Gates and Kwame Anthony Appiah, p. 299. Tubman specialists like Jean H. Humez and Kate Clifford Larson deem this one completely spurious. See "Bogus Tubman," by Steve Perisho http://liberlocorumcommunium.blogspot.com/2014/03/bogus-tubman-i-freed-thousands-of.html.<!-- Someone cited this as being in Harriet, The Moses of Her People (1886) by Sarah H. Bradford, but it does not occur in the editions available online. -->
Disputed
Variant: I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves.

„I had reasoned this out in my mind; there was on of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man should take me alive.“

—  Harriet Tubman

Modernized rendition: I had reasoned this out in my mind; there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty, or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man should take me alive; I should fight for my liberty as long as my strength lasted, and when the time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me.
The phrase "" is a slogan made famous during the independence struggle of several countries.
1880s, Harriet, The Moses of Her People (1886)
Variant: There was one of two things I had a right to: liberty or death. If I could not have one, I would take the other, for no man should take me alive. I should fight for liberty as long as my strength lasted.
Context: I had reasoned dis out in my mind; there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty, or death; if I could not have one, I would have de oder; for no man should take me alive; I should fight for my liberty as long as my strength lasted, and when de time came for me to go, de Lord would let dem take me.

„Oh, Lord! You've been wid me in six troubles, don't desert me in the seventh!“

—  Harriet Tubman

Modernized rendition: Oh, Lord! You've been with me in six troubles, don't desert me in the seventh!
1880s, Harriet, The Moses of Her People (1886)

Help us translate English quotes

Discover interesting quotes and translate them.

Start translating

„I can't die but once.“

—  Harriet Tubman

As quoted in The Underground Railroad (1987) by Charles L. Blockson

„I had reasoned dis out in my mind; there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty, or death; if I could not have one, I would have de oder; for no man should take me alive; I should fight for my liberty as long as my strength lasted, and when de time came for me to go, de Lord would let dem take me.“

—  Harriet Tubman

Modernized rendition: I had reasoned this out in my mind; there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty, or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man should take me alive; I should fight for my liberty as long as my strength lasted, and when the time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me.
The phrase "Liberty or Death" is a slogan made famous during the independence struggle of several countries.
1880s, Harriet, The Moses of Her People (1886)

„I looked at my hands, to see if I was de same person now I was free. Dere was such a glory over everything, de sun came like gold trou de trees, and over de fields, and I felt like I was in heaven.“

—  Harriet Tubman

On realizing that she had passed out of the slavery states into the northern states
Modernized rendition: I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything. The sun came up like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in heaven.
1880s, Harriet, The Moses of Her People (1886)

„I love all of the african americans like they are my children.“

—  Harriet Tubman

"African american" seems an ananchronistic term here, as the term was seldom used before the 1970s.
Disputed

„Children, if you are tired, keep going; if you are hungry, keep going; if you want to taste freedom, keep going.“

—  Harriet Tubman

"Harriet Tubman never said this — it comes from one of the scores of juvenile Harriet Tubman fictionalized biographies." — Kate Larson, Harriet Tubman biographer.
Disputed

Similar authors

Henry David Thoreau photo
Henry David Thoreau376
1817-1862 American poet, essayist, naturalist, and abolitio…
Louisa May Alcott photo
Louisa May Alcott172
American novelist
Aleksandr Pushkin photo
Aleksandr Pushkin33
Russian poet
Walt Whitman photo
Walt Whitman181
American poet, essayist and journalist
Andrew Carnegie photo
Andrew Carnegie33
American businessman and philanthropist
Mark Twain photo
Mark Twain629
American author and humorist
Ralph Waldo Emerson photo
Ralph Waldo Emerson698
American philosopher, essayist, and poet
Ambrose Bierce photo
Ambrose Bierce202
American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, fabu…
Alexandre Dumas photo
Alexandre Dumas121
French writer and dramatist, father of the homonym writer a…
Today anniversaries
Marilyn Monroe photo
Marilyn Monroe146
American actress, model, and singer 1926 - 1962
Toni Morrison photo
Toni Morrison182
American writer 1931 - 2019
Neil Armstrong photo
Neil Armstrong31
American astronaut; first person to walk on the moon 1930 - 2012
Wendell Berry photo
Wendell Berry189
author 1934
Another 48 today anniversaries
Similar authors
Henry David Thoreau photo
Henry David Thoreau376
1817-1862 American poet, essayist, naturalist, and abolitio…
Louisa May Alcott photo
Louisa May Alcott172
American novelist
Aleksandr Pushkin photo
Aleksandr Pushkin33
Russian poet
Walt Whitman photo
Walt Whitman181
American poet, essayist and journalist