BlackFacts Details

Harriet Tubman Biography: Later Years

Previous: 3: Civil War Service: Nurse, Scout, Spy

In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, Harriet Tubman worked to establish schools for freedmen in South Carolina. She herself never learned to read and write, but she appreciated the value of education for the future of freedom and so supported efforts to educate the former slaves.

Tubman soon returned to her home in Auburn, New York, which served as her base for the rest of her life.

She financially supported her parents, who died in 1871 and 1880.  Her brothers and their families moved to Auburn.

Her husband, John Tubman, who had remarried soon after she left slavery, died in 1867 in a fight with a white man.  In 1869 she married again. Her second husband, Nelson Davis, had been enslaved in North Carolina and then served as a Union Army soldier. He was more than twenty years younger than Tubman. Davis was often ill, probably with tuberculosis, and was not often able to work.

Tubman welcomed several young children into her home and raised them as if they were her own. she and her husband adopted a girl, Gertie. She also provided shelter and support for a number of aged, impoverished, former slaves.  She financed her support of others through donations and taking on loans.

To finance her own living and her support of others, she worked with Sarah Hopkins Bradford to publish Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman.

The publication was initially financed by abolitionists, including Wendell Phillips and Gerrit Smith, the latter a supporter of John Brown and first cousin of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Tubman toured to speak about her experiences as Moses. Queen Victoria invited her to England for the Queens birthday, and sent Tubman a silver medal.

In 1886, Mrs. Bradford wrote, with Tubmans help, a second book, Harriet the Moses of Her People, a full-scale biography of Tubman, to further provide for Tubmans support. In the 1890s, having lost her battle to get a military pension on her own, Tubman was able to collect a pension as the widow of US veteran Nelson

Education Facts

Amazing Grace: President Obama's Bold and Moving Speech on Race in Charleston