Press Release

March 7, 2008

Washington, DC –
U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD),
Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), and
Representative Elijah E. Cummings (MD-7),
have introduced a concurrent resolution in the Senate and the House of Representatives to support the goals and ideals of a national day of remembrance for Harriet Ross Tubman, one of the great “conductors” of the Underground Railroad.  Her life as a former slave, abolitionist, humanitarian, Union spy, and daughter of Maryland helped hundreds of slaves realize freedom through her courageous and selfless efforts.  This bipartisan legislation was co-sponsored by Senators George V. Voinovich (R-OH), Thomas R. Carper (D-DE), Joseph R. Biden (D-DE), and Carl Levin (D-MI), as well as 66 Members of the House of Representatives. See below for a current list.


“Harriet Tubman’s dedicated pursuit of the American ideals of equality and liberty continues to inspire all of us who cherish freedom.  Her legacy as the American Moses, leading her people to freedom, is one of selflessness and dedication to human rights,” said
Senator Cardin. “As we close Black History Month and begin Women’s History Month, I am proud to honor the life of Harriet Tubman, a true American hero and role model for generations.” 


“Harriet Tubman embodied the courage and ideals that have led our country down the road of progress toward recognizing every single human being-regardless of color, gender, religion, or any other characteristic-as being equal. She was a true leader and remains an inspiration for men and women everywhere,” said
Congressman Cummings. “Her principles and perseverance are rare even today, and I am pleased to honor her contributions to the freedoms of this country by supporting a national day of remembrance.”


 “Harriet Tubman was a courageous fighter who delivered 300 slaves to freedom on her Underground Railroad and was tireless in her commitment to fight for those who could not fight themselves.  I am proud to introduce this resolution that honors her memory,” said
Senator Mikulski.  “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.  Harriet Tubman knew that, and so do I.   Her legacy continues to inspire me and I am proud to fight every day for the freedom and equality she dedicated her life to.”


Harriet Tubman has received innumerable commendations for her role in American history.  Maryland, Delaware, Georgia, New York, and Texas host annual celebrations on March 10 to honor her life. In 1944, the Maritime Commission launched the SS Harriet Tubman, the first Liberty ship ever named for an African-American woman.  In 1978, Harriet Tubman was the first honoree of the Postal Service Black Heritage Stamp Series. 


The goals and ideals of a national day of remembrance for Harriet Tubman include such activities as ceremonies, celebrations, programs, and other activities in remembrance of Harriet Tubman and to acknowledge her importance in American history. 


Born into slavery in Dorchester County, Maryland, as Araminta Ross around 1820, she worked as a slave for several families throughout her childhood.  Abused and beaten, she suffered a serious head injury that would affect her for the rest of her life.  In 1844, she married John Tubman and took the first name of her mother, Harriet.


In 1849, Harriet Tubman escaped to Philadelphia.  She launched her work as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad soon after, making several trips back for family members and friends.  Tubman continued to risk capture for more than a decade, delivering enslaved people from bondage to freedom in New England and Canada.  Referred to as “Moses” because of her courage and sacrifice, she personally led more than a dozen expeditions, helping slaves escape. 


In 1859, Harriet Tubman purchased a home for her family in Auburn, New York.  While there, she continued her role as an abolitionist, making several trips to Boston to speak alongside Frederick Douglass and others. 


When the Civil War erupted in 1861, Tubman volunteered.  She worked for the Union Army as a nurse, scout, spy, and recruiter, and became the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, resulting in the liberation of hundreds of slaves.  Traveling through Maryland, South Carolina, and Virginia, Harriet Tubman risked disease, capture, and physical injury to support the Union Army.


After the war, Harriet Tubman returned to Auburn.  She became active in the women’s suffrage movement and worked alongside Susan B. Anthony and Emily Howland.  She continued to fight for human dignity, human rights, and equal justice throughout her lifetime. She died of pneumonia on March 10, 1913 surrounded by family and friends.  In recognition of her service to this country, she was buried with military honors at the Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn.


Current House co-sponsors include Representatives Arcuri (NY-24); Barrow (GA-12); Bartlett (MD-6); Bishop (GA-2); Bordallo (Guam); Boswell (IA-3); Brady (PA-1); Braley (IA-1); Brown (FL-3); Butterfield (NC-1); Christensen (USVI); Cleaver (MO-1); Cohen (TN-9); Conyers (MI-14); Davis (IL-7); Ellison (MN-5); Fattah (PA-2); Filner (CA-51);
Gilchrest (MD-1); Green (TX-9); Grijalva (AZ-7); Hall (NY-19); Hare (IL-17); Hastings (FL-23); Higgins (NY-27); Hinchey (NY-22); Hirono (HI-2); Honda (CA-15); Hoyer (MD-5); Jackson-Lee (TX-18); Jefferson (LA-2); Johnson (GA-4); Johnson (TX-30); Kucinich (OH-10); Lampson (TX-22); Lee (CA-9); Lewis (GA-5); Lynch (MA-9); Maloney (NY-14); Markey (MA-7); Matsui (CA-5); Meek (FL-17); Meeks (NY-6); McCollum (MN-4); McGovern (MA-3); Moore (KS-3); Moore (WI-4); Moran (VA-8); Nadler (NY-8); Payne (NJ-10); Rangel (NY-15);
Rothman (NJ-9); Roybal-Allard (CA-34); Ruppersberger (MD-2); Sarbanes (MD-3); Scott (VA-3); Serrano (NY-16); Sutton (OH-13); Thompson (MS-2); Towns (NY-10); Tubbs-Jones (OH-11); Van Hollen (MD-8); Wasserman Schultz (FL-20); Waters (CA-35); Woosley (CA-6); Wynn (MD-4).