Grand County Middle School teacher Sophia Sopuch (left, back row) is pictured with Kendyll Cox, Maara Holyoak, Rowan Murdock and Shaycee Renn. Emma Hunsaker, Tava Walling and Caison Ault are pictured in the front row. Students in Sopuch's English class recently wrote essays about famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman to commemorate Black History Month. [Photo courtesy of Sophia Sopuch]

By Shaycee Renn

Harriet Tubman was an abolitionist. She was a free slave who strived for other slaves to also have freedom. She wanted to spread emancipation to every other slave in the U.S., and although she didn’t free every slave, she spread emancipation to quite a few. It would have taken a lot of courage to do something that you could be killed for but, she did it. Tubman was an amazing woman who endured slavery at a young age, she granted manumission to hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad, and she conceived some clever ways to accomplish her mission.

According to Wikipedia Harriet’s name at birth was Araminta Ross. She was one of the eleven children of Harriet and Benjamin Ross (Wikipedia). Her mom and dad were both slaves so she was born into slavery. Slavery is a horrible thing. Africans were brought to America on ships while they were stuffed in crates; it was like they were items. Slaves were treated like animals. One time one of Harriet’s owners punished her by dropping a metal weight on her head which later caused her to be diagnosed with narcolepsy. Tubman became a free slave at the age of 24 (Wiki).

The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses used by enslaved people in efforts to escape to free states or Canada. Harriet was one of the people who helped establish the Underground Railroad. Even though she was free she went back to go and free other slaves. She was known as “Moses.” Tubman was called this because she took slaves to the “promised land.” She was an abolitionist who was selfless in what she did because she risked being tortured and even killed to help other people.

What really helped Harriet accomplish the amazing act of freeing 300 slaves was Harriet’s tactics. She came up with many clever ways to not be caught ever and to never lose a slave. A huge example of this is that she came up with coded songs to send messages to slaves. One song she said was “In Wade of the Water,” which told slaves to hide in the water. Another example of this is how when they arrived to a house they could stay at she would say “A Friend with Friends” so they would know it was her. Also because she was called “Moses” the slave owners thought that she was a man. This made them even more terrified of her even though she was a “her.” These are all genius ideas that contributed to her success in the Underground Railroad.

In the end after ten years, nineteen trips, Harriet managed to grant emancipation to over 300 slaves. This obviously took an abundant amount of courtesy, bravery, selflessness, and cleverness. She went through trying to give hope to slaves when she was unsure herself and all the while she had the serious disorder of narcolepsy. Harriet Tubman will forever be remembered in history for the great things she did. These things included being a slave who kept hope through it all, went back to save others, and came up with efficient ways to do it.

By Rowan Murdock

Did you know that Harriet Tubman freed around 300 to 400 slaves? Tubman also sang coded songs, was born into slavery and led slaves to freedom. Tubman was considered to be the “Moses” of her people. She was brave, courageous and determined. Tubman was a brave woman who saved many slaves’ lives.

Harriet Tubman sang coded songs to let slaves know specific things about the next escape. She would sing to them while they were working or at night at their doorsteps. The song “Wade in the Water” was to let slaves know to travel in water to avoid being seen or tracked. The song “Steal Away” was a song to tell that a slave would soon be escaping. One last song is “Sweet Chariot,” which told slaves to get prepared to leave for the North because the Underground Railroad is coming.

Tubman was born into slavery in March 1822. When she was 13 years old, her master threw an iron weight at her head. That caused her to have narcolepsy. In 1849, she ran away. Her narcolepsy caused her to pass out and be tired during daytime, which was not good for when she was escaping and freeing slaves.

Harriet Tubman also freed around 400 slaves. She would sing the coded songs to tell about when and where to go. When the slaves would find her, she would lead them through water and swamps so the dogs could not smell them. They also went through water so the bounty hunters could not track them. Tubman kept a gun to threaten slaves who would want to go back. She would say, “Go on or die.” They would stop at safe houses, in which people would hide them and feed them. Once they got to the North though, they were still in constant fear of being caught because of the Fugitive Slave Law.

In conclusion, Harriet Tubman was a very brave woman who freed slaves and was even a spy for the Union in the Civil War. She saved over 300 slaves in 19 trips. She sang coded songs, was born into slavery and led slaves to freedom. Tubman made a huge impact on America. Do you think you could?

February is Black History Month, and to mark the occasion, students in Sophia Sopuch’s seventh-grade English class at Grand County Middle School wrote essays about Harriet Tubman. The former slave turned abolitionist and Union spy was a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, and she helped free hundreds of slaves during the 1850s. She continued to help black Americans long after the Civil War ended. Sopuch said that many of her students are in awe of Tubman and her many accomplishments. To highlight their work, the Moab Sun News is profiling essays from students Shaycee Renn and Rowan Murdock.