Monday, June 02, 2008

General Harriet Tubman

On this day in 1863, Harriet Tubman led a band of African-American soldiers in an onslaught described eight days later on the front page of The Commonwealth, a Boston newspaper, as follows:

"Col. Montgomery and his gallant band of 300 black soldiers, under the guidance of a black woman, dashed into the enemy’s country, struck a bold and effective blow, destroying millions of dollars worth of commissary stores, cotton and lordly dwellings, and striking terror into the heart of rebeldom, brought off near 800 slaves and thousands of dollars worth of property, without losing a man or receiving a scratch. It was a glorious consummation.

"After they were all fairly well disposed of in the Beaufort charge, they were addressed in strains of thrilling eloquence by their gallant deliverer, to which they responded in a song. 'There is a white robe for thee,' a song so appropriate and so heartfelt and cordial as to bring unbidden tears.

"The Colonel was followed by a speech from the black woman, who led the raid and under whose inspiration it was originated and conducted. For sound sense and real native eloquence, her address would do honor to any man, and it created a great sensation...

"Since the rebellion, she has devoted herself to her great work of delivering the bondman, with an energy and sagacity that cannot be exceeded. Many and many times she has penetrated the enemy’s lines and discovered their situation and condition, and escaped without injury, but not without extreme hazard..."

For more about this remarkable story, visit this site.

My favorite Tubman quote: "I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed more if they knew they were slaves." And rather than putting that on others, I read it and ask myself, "How am I a slave? What oppressions have I internalized that keep me in bondage today?"

2 comments:

Yobachi said...

Well damn, who knew.

Changeseeker said...

Hey, yobachi. I'm glad to "see" you again. I really liked this story, too. She was quite a person. And when you consider that she used to "space out" periodically without warning from some kind of seizures as a result of a childhood injury at the hands of a slave master, it heightens one's perceptions of both the danger and her commitment to the cause. Whenever I feel as if I just can't handle...[whatever]...I think about Tubman heading out after dark into enemy territory alone knowing she had no control over those episodes and remind myself that I've got no call to whine.