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August 23, 2008

Harriet Tubman Conductor of the Underground Railroad

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Harriet Tubman Conductor of the Underground Railroad

Author:  Ann Petry

Page Length: 242

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Biography 

PLOT SUMMARY: This is the story of Harriet Tubman who was the daughter of Ben and “Old Rit” Ross, slaves in Maryland in the early 1800’s.  Harriet was hired out by her master at the young age of six to help with housework and care for a baby.  She was not good at this and eventually returned to her master.  As Harriet aged, she was a strong woman and worked well in the fields.  She enjoyed this work more than the domestic chores she had performed when she was younger.

Although her master was good to her parents and family, Harriet longed for freedom.  She married John Tubman, a free man, and wanted him to move North with her so that she could also be free.  John was happy in Maryland and did not want to move.  Harriet was befriended by a free woman who gave her information as how to travel North through the Underground Railroad.  By 1849, Harriet had made the trip North and was living in Pennsylvania. 

Harriet worked to save money so that she could return to Maryland and help other slaves move north.  She had to be very careful, because of the Fugitive Slave Laws and eventually had to move as far North as Canada.  Harriet dedicated her life to working as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad.  She helped more than 300 slaves move northward and became a spokesman for the fight for freedom.  She was known by her people as “Moses” for leading so many out of the bondage of the South.

 REVIEW: This is the third book I have read about the life of Harriet Tubman.  I enjoyed this book the most as it gave a more personal view of the struggles that Harriet experienced in her fight for freedom.  Ann Petry created a realistic setting of the road traveled on the Underground Railroad.  This is a good book for studying pre-Civil War slavery.  The reader is given a realistic view of the life of a slave.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Sequence, Setting and Character

RELATED BOOKS: Frederick Douglas, Passage to Freedom, Many Thousand Gone, Harriet and the Promised Land


REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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