This picture is of several slaves probably spanning three generations. Notice the two oldest women are on the extreme left and right. Look at the humbleness of their personal posture. The seated man (left) with cane and cigar has an interesting expression. He does not seem bowed or humbled. The man seated to his right, an older man, does seem humbled by life’s experiences. The two children, the girl and boy must be between ages seven and nine. Full of life, vigor, unbroken, still hopeful. The younger female, probably the mother of the children stands left. She seems resolved to her life as a slave but has the look of hope in her face that maybe her children will not always be slaves.
Let’s go back to the old woman on the far left. That is Harriet Tubman. Tubman was born in 1820 and died in 1913. She was one of the most powerful and influential characters in all of the Civil War; yet she was black, an escaped slave, and a woman! She had more influence and power than 99% of the formally recognized power-elites during her lifetime.
Tubman was a runaway slave from Maryland who became famously known for helping perhaps as many as 300 slaves escape to freedom during the Civil War era via the Underground Railroad. She was known as ‘Moses’ to the slave community. She endured great personal risk and injury several times as she led escapes to the North. There was even a bounty on her head for her capture in the tens of thousands of dollars. She also suffered all her life from an early childhood accident which resulted in her sporadically losing awareness – sort of blanking out for a few seconds.
She also worked as a spy for the Federal government and even led a military raid near Charleston South Carolina during the war. Tubman is an example of how the simple and the weak confound the wise and the strong.
Learn more about Harriet Tubman.