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Share All Share Options: Harriet Tubman once sat down to collect $20. Treasure gave them all to him.
What Challenges Did Harriet Tubman Face
The news that Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill is important for several reasons. Slave owner Jackson is pushed to the return of the money by a former slave; Tubman, who led more than 300 slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad, replaced a president who drove 16,000 Cherokee (and thousands more from other Native tribes) from their homes on The Way of Tears.
Nurse, Spy, Cook:’ How Harriet Tubman Found Freedom Through Food
But even if Tubman didn’t replace Jackson, the $20 would be the perfect coin to honor him, because the $20 bill played a significant role in his life on two separate occasions.
For one thing, the $20 was the amount he received as a monthly pension after the Civil War, for helping the Union as a scout and spy. That’s still less than the $25 full soldiers are paid per month, but it’s the result of a long legal battle to get a soldier’s pension. (Phil Edwards wrote about this last year, when the social media campaign to put Tubman or any other woman on the $20 was at its height.)
But even before that — as The Atlantic’s Yoni Applebaum pointed out on Twitter — the $20 bill played a big role in Tubman’s efforts to free his own father from slavery.
In Tubman’s first biography, the 1869 book Incidents in the Life of Harriet Tubman, author Sarah Hopkins Bradford tells the story of Tubman’s efforts to save her parents as an example of how Tubman rarely asked others for anything. Bradford wrote, “Though very private, he was brave when it came to the good of his country”—and was not afraid to embarrass the powerful when necessary.
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At this point, Bradford writes, Tubman believed God had “led him” to ask “a man in New York” for money to save his parents.
When he left his friend’s house to go there, he said, “I am going to the man’s office, I will lie there, and I will not eat or drink or drink until I get enough money to set up . leave me behind the thief men.” He went to this man’s office. “Harriet what do you want?” It’s time to say goodbye. “I need some money, sir.” “You do? How much do you want?” “I want twenty dollars, sir.” “Twenty dollars? Who wants to come here for twenty dollars?” “God told me sir.” “Well, I think the Lord made a mistake this time.” “I don’t think so, sir. Anyway, I want to sit here until I think.” So he sat down and slept. Every morning and evening he sat there again, sleeping and waking up—sometimes to find an office full of gentlemen—sometimes to find himself alone. Many fugitives were passing through New York at that time, those who came to think that he was one of them, he was tired. “Come, Harriet, you should go. You have no money here,” he would sometimes exhort. “No sir. I will not sleep until I give my twenty dollars.”
In the end, Tubman got his twenty dollars — and then some. Bradford wrote that Tubman eventually fell asleep at the office and woke up to find $60 in his pocket. But they have not come from Johnson. They came from former “runaway” slaves who passed through the office, who managed to get enough money for Tubman to bring another person into his ranks.
Tubman used the money to free his father, who was on trial for helping slaves to escape, and took him to Canada, where he could not be recaptured as a slave.
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In fact, $20 doesn’t go as far as it used to. But once Tubman’s face is emblazoned on the new $20 bill, it will be part of an entire exchange that even a prominent abolitionist wouldn’t give him to save his own father. For those who know the story, it may even serve as a reminder that $20 is worth less.
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If you believe that everyone deserves access to reliable, high-quality information, would you donate today? Any amount helps If you ask me who in history I would like to meet, Harriet Tubman is at the top of my list. I just finished a wonderful book about her called Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom by Catherine Clinton. What impressed me most about the book was how prepared he was with the skills, abilities and qualities to become who he became and to do what he did.
You would never have predicted that a poor, illiterate slave girl who was physically handicapped would eventually help lead 1,000 slaves to freedom, or that she would become a civil servant, spy, and nurse. Some will call him “General Tubman” because of the war, or in his eighties he will start a nursing home.
You wouldn’t predict any of these discoveries from his humble beginnings. But Harriet Tubman is a classic case study in the power of using one’s abilities to fulfill one’s life.
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But now, I will discuss some of its qualities that give perfection. One principle to remember is that the call is progressive – our job is to take one true step forward, and eventually we will walk in better ways than we could have imagined from the beginning.
I think if you tell Harriet what she’s going to do in the end, she won’t believe it. He had to take a leap of faith. The same goes for you.
Here’s how her biographer, Catherine Clinton, describes some of her strengths. Imagine how useful these will be for your operations. Remember, competencies are the essential skills, knowledge, abilities, and characteristics that enable you to live out your calling.
If you explore the details of his life, you can see how useful all these qualities are to him. But they’re not just endemic, on cruise control, see ’em and leave ’em. It also works on their development and they grow over time.
December 6, 1849: Harriet Tubman Escaped From Slavery
This is an important lesson about abilities for life’s callings – they are born and raised, and part of being true to your calling is being true to your abilities. If you work to develop your skills, they will be ready when the call comes. You don’t want to be seen as unprepared.
Speaking of strengths, Strengths Coach Beverly Griffeth-Bryant shares what she believes to be Harriet Tubman’s Top 5 CliftonStrengths® Strengths Themes:
You may not be the next Harriet Tubman. Of course, I don’t want to be you. I want you to be your next and come out with all your strength in your later life. Your mission may not be to release 1,000 slaves or become a spy and spy, but it is to do something else unusual.
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team. Your information will not be shared. As one of the best “leaders” of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman shows how being born into dire circumstances can leave an inspiring legacy of love, sacrifice, and perseverance.
Harriet Tubman And The Underground Railroad (u.s. National Park Service)
Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, NY has four sites that commemorate her life’s work and tell a more complete story of this remarkable abolitionist.
Born Araminta Ross in 1822, the life of Harriet Tubman
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