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On this date in 1849, Harriet Tubman began her work with the Underground Railroad. This was a network of antislavery activists who helped African slaves escape from the South.
On her first trip, Tubman brought her own sister and her sister's two children out of slavery in Maryland. A year later she rescued her brother, and in 1857 returned to Maryland to guide her aged parents to freedom.
Over a period of ten years Tubman made an estimated 19 expeditions into the South and personally escorted over 300 slaves to the North. In 1863 while working with the Union Army, she conducted the Combahee River Raid which emancipated several hundred more.
The Encyclopedia Britannica, Fifteenth Edition.
Copyright 1996 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.