How did Tubman successfully escape bondage in Dorchester County, and how did she manage to return many times to lead out family and friends? Not merely the recipient of white abolitionist support, Tubman was the beneficiary of, and a participant in, an African American community that challenged the control of white Marylanders, from the earliest Africans brought from Africa to the outbreak of the Civil War.
Numerous navigable rivers and creeks crisscross the county, offering access to trade and suitable sites for shipbuilding. The flat terrain provides abundant tillable lands for tobacco, wheat, corn, fruit, and other agricultural products, and before modern times, the vast supply of oyster shells helped keep soils fertile.
Trail Offers Visitors Look at Harriet Tubman's Life
In the nineteenth century, the river remained navigable for nearly forty miles upstream from the Chesapeake Bay. Until the early eighteenth century white indentured servitude was common, particularly on the Eastern Shore. Some planters had both slaves and indentured servants; by the s and s, however, shipments of black captives from Africa to the Americas had increased dramatically. The detailed records of the lives of the white families who enslaved Tubman, her family, and her friends, demonstrate the sharp contrast between the lives of whites and blacks, lives intimately entwined yet irreconcilably different.
Project MUSE - Afterword
Out of necessity, many black families maintained familial and community ties throughout a wide geographic area. Family separations were not always precipitated by sale; some whites owned or rented land and farms across great distances, requiring a shifting of their enslaved and hired black labor force at varying times throughout the year, or at various times over a period of decades when new land had been purchased and the cycle of clearing and es- tablishing new farms began.
This pattern of intraregional movement forced families and friends both black and white to create communication and travel networks in order to maintain ties with family and community. These complicated networks made it possible for Tubman to become one of the rare individuals capable of executing successful and daring rescues repeatedly.
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Because few records survived from before , piecing together the nature of black and white relationships in Dorchester County can be done in only a limited way. Several documents did survive the fire: the records of the Orphans Court from to were saved because the clerk of the court brought the logbook home to work on it over the weekend.
Other records were saved, too: the books listing manumissions, freedom papers, and many chattel records where slave sales were recorded were preserved, providing important information about the black community and vital genealogical data for many families in the area.
District court cases, heard at the appeals court located in neighboring Talbot County, were recorded at the state level, as were most land transactions, thereby preserving some information from the colonial era and the early republic. Reaching Beyond the Grave: The Legacy of a Patriarch In Atthow Pattison, the patriarch of a long-established Eastern Shore family, sat down to contemplate his legacy to his children and grandchildren. A Revolutionary War veteran, a modest farmer, and an even more modest slaveholder, Pattison could proudly trace his roots in Dorchester County back at least a century.
Intermarrying for generations, the Pattisons and other Eastern Shore families consolidated their control over vast tracts of dense timberland, rich marshlands, and productive farms. Standing at his front door, Pattison could view much of his approximately acre farm, situated on the east side of the Little Blackwater River, near its confluence with the larger Blackwater River. From the wharf in front of his home Pattison probably shipped tobacco, timber, and grain, destined for England and other markets, and received goods originating from the West Indies or England as well as other trading points in New England and along the Chesapeake.
After dividing tracts of land, including his home plantation, and arranging for payments to his grandchildren when they came of age, Atthow bequeathed his remaining slaves and livestock to his surviving daughter, Elizabeth, and her children, Gourney Crow, James, Elizabeth, Achsah, and Mary Pattison, and to his son-in-law, Ezekiel Keene, and his children, Samuel and Anna Keene.
Maryland manumissions had taken place even in the earliest days of slavery. Never an informal procedure, manumissions were taken quite seriously and were often recorded in land records as deeds for each county. Some slaves were able to earn enough money to buy their own freedom, and on occasion slaves sued for their freedom, some eventually prevailing. This legislation, it was hoped, would slow the increasing number of deathbed manumissions and hold slaveholders more accountable for the support and maintenance of indigent slaves. No doubt Pattison was aware of this, but he may have been influenced by the spirit of the times.
On the Eastern Shore, as elsewhere in the new nation, a complex movement was emerging, both religious and secular, that spurred a marked increase in manumissions during the s.
Early Preservation and Commemoration
The Monument does not include the historical and cultural sites associated with the last fifty years of her life in Auburn, NY, nor does it include the most significant sites associated with her Underground Railroad activities on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in neighboring Caroline County. So what happened? Harriet Tubman deeded this twenty-five-acre property to the AME Zion Church in , which retains ownership to this day.
Starting in the s, this single effort sparked a decades-long commitment to preserving not only the physical remnants of her life in Auburn, NY, but her historical and cultural memory, too. Tubman and her husband Nelson Davis, friends, and family members built this house using bricks made on the property. Held during the Memorial Day weekend, the pilgrimage attracts hundreds of families and individuals from all around the country.
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- The late 1860s carte-de-visite comes from fellow abolitionist Emily Howland’s album.
The Harriet Tubman Organization of Cambridge was founded in the mid s as a community-centered museum and educational resource center for the [End Page ] region and visitors to the area. The Organization hosts tours and annual community activities and celebrations.
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks. Harriet Tubman is one of the giants of American historya fearless visionary who led scores of her fellow slaves to freedom and battled courageously behind enemy lines during the Civil War. And yet in the century since her death, next to nothing has been written about this extraordinary woman aside from juvenile biographies.
The truth about Harriet Tubman has become lost inside a legend woven of racial and gender stereotypes. Now at last, historian Kate Clifford Larson gives Harriet Tubman the powerful, intimate, meticulously detailed biography she deserves. Drawing from a trove of new documents and sources as well extensive genealogical research, Larson reveals Tubman as a complex woman. The descendant of the vibrant, matrilineal Asante people of the African Gold Coast, Tubman was born into slavery on the Eastern Shore of Maryland but refused to spend her life in bondage.
While still a young woman she embarked on a perilous journey of self-liberationand then, having won her own freedom, she returned again and again to liberate family and friends, tapping into the Underground Railroad. Yet despite her success, her celebrity, and her close ties with Northern politicians and abolitionists, Tubman suffered crushing physical pain and emotional setbacks. Stripping away myths and misconceptions, Larson presents stunning new details about Tubmans accomplishments, personal life, and influence.
Here too are Tubmans twilight years after the war, when she worked for womens rights and in support of her fellow blacks, and when racist politicians and suffragists marginalized her contribution. Harriet Tubman, her life, and her work remain an inspiration to all who value freedom.