Harriet Tubman was born into slavery near Bucktown, Maryland around 1820. Tubman laboured as a field slave on a plantation where she endured physically demanding working conditions and severe abuse. One summer night in 1849, Harriet Tubman escaped from Bucktown without her husband in search of freedom in the northern States. "I started with this idea in my head, "There's two things I've got a right to . . . death or liberty." To Her Biographer, Sarah H. Bradford (1868)
The American South was a dangerous place for escaped fugitive slaves on the run. Tubman passed unnoticed through armed patrols and bloodhounds, and she also avoided being identified by bounty hunters responding to runaway slave ads posted at every tavern and crossroads. Tubman's travels eventually led her to Philadelphia where she found employment as a cook and began to save money to finance future trips to the South. Tubman's first return voyage south was in 1849 when she returned to rescue her sister and her family.