Harriet Ross Tubman endured backbreaking work, long periods of separation from her family and loved ones, and brutal treatment meted out by her owners and overseers. After successfully escaping her owners in October of 1849, Tubman bravely jeopardized her own freedom, in fact her very life, to return to Maryland’s Eastern Shore on many occasions to liberate family members, friends, and strangers--an estimated 300 to 400 people. On at least one important occasion she was aided in this work by Jacob Jackson, a literate free black man who lived on the Eastern Shore near Madison, Maryland.
In December of 1854, Jackson received and decoded a letter Harriet Tubman had drafted by a friend indicating the place and time when she would return to Maryland to free her brothers who were in danger of being sold further south. Jackson passed the word of Harriet’s arrival along to Robert, Ben, and Henry, who joined with a handful of others on Christmas Day 1854 to start the perilous, but ultimately successful, journey from slavery to freedom. They told no one of their plans, not even their mother who was expecting her sons for Christmas dinner.
As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Tubman returned to Maryland multiple times to liberate friends and family members. She did this dangerous work at the risk of her own freedom, perhaps her own life. Harriet Tubman served in the Civil War as a Union nurse, spy, and guide, and continued to serve her people and her country selflessly until her death in 1913.
The 480-acre Jacob Jackson Home Site was purchased by the Conservation Fund in 1993 and donated to the National Park Service, thus enabling President Barack Obama to use the Antiquities Act to designate the property a national monument in March 2013.