Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument

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.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument








November 5, 2014

What is at the Jacob Jackson Home Site today? On a recent visit, I spent a good hour hiking down an access 'road', but turned back when nothing was apparent. There are no plaques or waysides at this property, and no remains of a house are obvious, from what I saw. Of course, it would help to know where to look in this 480 acre parcel. The Tubman story, insofar as the UGRR is concerned, is one which begins in Maryland and ends mainly in Ontario. It's curious, then, that much of the interpretation I've seen doesn't even mention the province (or its historic names: "United Province of Canada" or "Canada West" (C.W.) which existed from 1841 to Confederation in 1867, when Ontario was created. There are numerous references to specific places--towns, counties, cities--in the US, but almost never any specific locations given in Ontario: St. Catharines and its Salem Chapel, now a national historic site, and Tubman's base of operations for eight years; North and South Buxton settlements; the Dawn Settlement; Oro Township. I have a crazy theory: readers on both sides of the border can handle these names, and they ought to be used in interpretation.


August 2, 2013

Love the story about the Underground Railroad When I was in high school, about 60 years ago I wrote one of my first term papers on the under ground rail road. I feel all Americans should know this story of these freedom seekers.

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