Harriet Tubman: Abolitionist, Bad-Ass

Reader Donald Moore posted this on our MyFace page:

Discussed this morning during a House Committee to create a National Historic Park in her honor. (HB) Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Harriet Ross; 1820 – March 10, 1913) was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the American Civil War. She carried a revolver, and was not afraid to use it . . .

Once a slave agreed to join her expedition, there was no turning back; she threatened to shoot anyone who tried to return. Tubman told the tale of one journey with a group of fugitive slaves, when morale sank and one man insisted he was going to go back to the plantation.

She pointed the gun at his head and said, “You go on or die.” Several days later, he was with the group as they entered Canada. It is more than likely that Tubman carried the handgun as protection from ever-present slave catchers and their dogs.


  1. avatar mp504 says:

    She CARRIED the revolver for self protection. Whether it was against fugitive enforcement agents (read bounty hunters), or from those that would have betrayed her by returning to “…Massa…” is inconsequential. It is the fact that she knew and understood the need for a firearm that is important.

    That revolver, rifle, or shotgun, gave her and those with her the means to defend themselves. The average slave was not allowed to own, let alone touch a firearm. That could result in instantanious death. The average slave owner, no matter how kind he or she was, lived in constant fear of uprising.

    The Nathaniel Bacon case which went to the USSC was only one example of revolts led by slaves. There were others, and most never got past the planning stage as they would be informed on. Hard to believe that a slave would sell out another slave, but you only need look as far what is going on here to see that happening.

  2. avatar David says:

    I live in HT country and should do my own self guided tour. HT is a testament to changing the law thru breaking it. She broke the law of the land period. Many others did at the time as well. People today lionize HT but they fail to grasp the political underpinings in doing so. She went against . . . gasp . . . dare I state it . . . the constitution. It was the law of the land until it got broken and the breaking of it helped to change it. Many people (wrongly) advocate that the only way to change the law is thru the “proper” channels and the legal system itself. Had a bunch of white guys (some slave owners) had this same view the great experiment known as America would never have happened. I hope one day that people world wide will wake up to this reality; maybe then we can end the war on drugs and truly live up to those great words, “shall not be infringed”.

    Also – HT and many others throughout history (MLK) were armed. This fact is not taught at our institutions from primary schools to universities. TTAG gets its right by shining a light on that inconvenient truth. Let’s bring up a very controversial truth as well. HT was a charismatic Christian. In fact, most abolitionists world wide (not just America) were in the 19th century. There are reasons why the worldwide push to abolish slavery origniated with the Christian West and not elsewhere. Ideas matter.

  3. avatar Augur says:

    I was never told that she carried a gun, and now that I know, it makes a lot more sense for her to have one than not. This is exactly the sort of thing that is redacted in schoolbooks… because guns are more unnerving than slavery, right?

  4. avatar sdog says:

    when i teach this aspect of aa hisotry, it always gets a rise out of the students when i tell them about her use of firearms and also the fact that she acted as an intellgence operative during the civil war.


    +10 for this post btw ttag, so great. Maybe we could get some coverage on robert f williams or the Deacons for defense sometime in the future?

      1. avatar SkinnyMinny says:


    1. avatar jim says:

      sdog – If you teach this aspect of AA history, another reference you might enjoy: “Father of the Blues” by WC Handy. Great music autobiography and a fascinating look at Harlem in the 20s and 30s. And there’s a great bit where a popular all-black band is transiting the South in their private rail car in the early 1900s and somewhere outside of Possum Trot they run into a town full of bubbas who were gonna teach those uppity colored boys a lesson. Said lesson went untaught when it turned out the “boys” in the band were, to a man, well-armed and ready to open fire.

  5. avatar Mistereveready says:

    Gun(weapon) Control is always about dominance. Victorious countries usually disarm or near completely disarm the loser. Police do their damnedest to disarm criminals to apprehend (the polite term for abduct) them. Slaves were forbidden from having weapons for the exact purpose to keep them subservient. Countless civilizations had warrior & noble classes who were the only ones allowed to have weapons just to make uprisings that much more difficult.

    Without brave people like Harriet Tubman and all those who fought for what they felt was right, many these anti-gun people wouldn’t even have the luxury to cast away what was so hard earned.As a person of “color” I find it depressing just how many people are enthusiastic to have shackles reequipped. Even so daring as to try to drag those not wanting to be dominated/handicapped along with them.

    1. avatar Melquiades says:

      Gandhi once said that England’s biggest crime against the Indian people was disarming them. The man was a pacifist, but he wasn’t a wimp. Examples of subjugation can be found on every corner of Earth. When the Spanish conquered Mexico, they forbade the natives from arming themselves. Porfirio Diaz, Mexico’s most infamous dictator, strengthened the weapon control laws on the poor, while allowing the elite to own guns.
      As time went on, and new arms tech emerged, the laws got worse. But in the mid 90’s, a group of indigenous people in southern Mexico were not having that. They didn’t really win the conflict, but to this day, there are still some communities in Chiapas and the southern states where the people dictate the laws. Hopefully, one day the rest of Mexico will stand up. Until then, I hope the gun-owners in the states don’t give up the fight, and don’t give the government another way to control them.

      1. avatar Mistereveready says:

        Word. That’s the thing most people don’t seem to grasp. For there to be good in the world good people have to have the ability to do good. I’ve yet to see a slave win their freedom by submitting, a woman/child not be raped by arching their back in compliance with their attacker, or a war won by surrendering.

        Even if something is impossible to win, make the aggressor have to earn their victory. There is a distinct difference between being free because no one can hold you back, and being free because your number just hasn’t come up, yet.

      2. avatar William says:

        “Students, in a question-and-answer period, asked some hard questions. One girl wanted to know how to react to a shooter who takes aim at a classmate. The Dalai Lama said acts of violence should be remembered, and then forgiveness should be extended to the perpetrators. But if someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, he said, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun. Not at the head, where a fatal wound might result. But at some other body part, such as a leg.”

        1. avatar Melquiades says:

          He is also a man who would rather take a non-violent route, but will not allow himself to be stomped on and subjugated.

  6. avatar jkp says:

    Waiting for the usual neo-Confederate suspects to show up and moan because she was, you know, all involved with Abe Lincoln’s cause.

    1. avatar sdog says:

      +1 lol indeed. lets not even start on the blue prints for the greyback ironclad ship being stolen and hand delivered to DC by a slave woman named Mary Touvestre.
      neo-C.S.A= head explosion.

    2. avatar Ralph says:

      Well, she wasn’t. Lincoln didn’t give a sh1t about black people. He actually wanted to deport them all. What Lincoln cared about was the almighty state. He insisted that the states, having joined, could not leave under penalty of death. You know, like the Mafia.

      Tubman was defending herself and her people. She was on the side of the angels.

    3. avatar إبليس says:

      If you’re rooting for a side in the Civil War you’re doing it wrong.

  7. avatar IdahoPete says:

    So with the history of slavery, the laws in the south that disarmed blacks after the Civil War, the lynchings, night raids by the KKK, and all of the other racist roots of gun control, WHY do today’s black civil rights groups (NAACP, etc.) support gun control? Are they so leftist that they are willing to sacrifice the freedom and self-defense rights of their own people to the goal of empowering the almighty state?

    Somebody help me understand this, please.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      It’s as mind boggling as why would any Jew support gun control? There are no people left in the US who witnessed slavery first hand. But there are Jews who witnessed the holocaust first hand. And it’s their kids and grandkids that are, in some cases, the biggest supporters of gun control.

      Blacks or Jews supporting gun control makes my brain hurt.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Why would any Christian support gun control? Almost all of the gungrabbers are Christians. Cuomo, Malloy, Hickenlooper, O’Malley, Obama, Biden, Durban, Brady, Moonbeam, McCarthy, Yee. The list is endless.

        We say that Jews and blacks should know better. Shouldn’t Christians know better too?

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Very true Ralph. It’s just that major atrocity’s have been committed against unarmed blacks and jews fairly recently in history. With such fresh examples you would think these 2 groups, especially, would be pro gun. Maybe they are and it’s just their leadership failing them?

          As for the Christians, I claim no faith, but all the hell fire and brimstone baptists I know from back home are armed.

        2. avatar Bob Wall says:

          Ralph – Christians in name only. Take Pelosi, for instance. She says she’s Catholic, but if anything, a “Social Justice” one, certainly not in the mainstream of the Holy Roman Church.

        3. avatar Accur81 says:

          Hmm Obama is a Christian? Yet he’s pro gay, pro absorbtion, and pro scandal. It one thing to say you are a Christian and another to act like one.

          Also there are plenty of pro Freedom Christains such as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.

    2. avatar Ralph says:

      Are they so dependent that they are willing to sacrifice the freedom and self-defense rights of their own people to the goal of empowering the almighty state?

      I made one small change. And the answer is “yes.” Black “leaders” are like dogs who have been trained to be grateful for the smallest handouts from their masters.

  8. avatar Nobby says:

    Black people are individuals who make individual choices about firearms, much like any other race. Blacks do not select and appoint “leaders”. Instead, certain blacks are anointed as “leaders” by non-black politicians and mainstream media. Such labels allow for a neatly organized collection of well-vetted, predictable “go to” people to be utilized if the need arises to obtain the “black perspective” on firearms or any other matter. Actually it kind of annoys me that anyone could believe that any person or people could be designated as leader(s) of (insert any non-white race here) people. And to believe the leaders represent the thoughts and interests of said race is just ignorant and revealing.

    I said all that to say don’t believe the hype about Blacks being rigidly anti-gun. Because it’s just not true.

    1. avatar sdog says:

      ” Blacks do not select and appoint “leaders”. Instead, certain blacks are anointed as “leaders” by non-black politicians and mainstream media. ”


    2. avatar Bob Wall says:

      So where did Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton come from, Spinoza’s theory of spontaneous generation? I will agree that their status as “leaders” has been maintained by the LSM, but they got where they are on the backs of Black folk.

    3. avatar Leon says:

      You are absolutely right Nobby. I am living proof that Blacks are not anti- gun. …..and I assure you, I am not alone. Hopefully, this message will get across to the anointed leaders. Great post. Great comments.

  9. avatar BlinkyPete says:

    Awesome post, awesome story.

  10. avatar Jerryboy says:

    both the north and the south were wrong. the federal government wanted tyranny over all men; the confederate government wanted to continue tyranny only over blacks. personally, i’d just as soon have had the south win if only to have a border area right down the middle of the country where neither nation’s laws were strictly enforced.

  11. avatar alkh3myst says:

    Black people need guns RIGHT NOW.

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