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Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad
Harriet Tubman earned the name “Black Moses” because like the Moses in the Bible who led Jews out
of slavery in Egypt, she lead many of her fellow Blacks out of slavery in the southern
United States to freedom in Canada.
Harriet Tubman was born a slave in Maryland in 1820. Her ancestors had been
captured in Africa and sold as slaves in America. Unlike slaves in earlier times, the
Africans were regarded as less than human. They were cattle or property in the
same sense as farm animals and they were often treated the same: fed scraps,
housed in shacks, and worked under the whip.
In 1849 Harriet Tubman decided to escape this fate by riding the
“Underground Railroad” north to freedom. This escape route was not literally
underground nor was it a railroad. It was underground in the sense that it was a
secret operation run by courageous people, both Black and White, who were
opposed to slavery. It was a railroad in the sense that it used railroad code
words like “passengers” for the fugitives and “stations” for the safe houses
where the fugitives hid from slave owners who hunted them. “Conductors”
were those who led the slaves from one “station” to another like the
Canadian doctor Alexander Milton Ross. He used his bird-watching hobby
as a cover while visiting the plantations to tell the slaves how best to travel
to Canada. From 1793 until 1861, a thousand Blacks or AfricanAmericans made it to freedom in the northern American Free states and
to Canada through this underground network.
When Harriet Tubman escaped on the Underground Railroad, she
travelled by night for a week before reaching Pennsylvania, a
northern state, and freedom. A year later she became a conductor
herself and made 19 trips before 1850, risking capture and losing that freedom. She would use the North
Star to guide her on clear nights; on cloudy nights she would feel for the moss growing on the north side
of trees. Sometimes she and the runaway slaves would hide in a “station”, sometimes in chimneys,
barns, haystacks, and root cellars. They also used disguises when travelling in the South and fake passes
in the Northern states.
To protect her passengers, the Black Moses could be ruthless. She thought that if a slave gave up the
journey, he should be shot. An interviewer asked if she would really do that. “Yes,” she replied, “if he
was weak enough to give out, he’d be weak enough to betray us all, and all who helped us; and do you
think I’d let so many die just for one coward man.”
Despite ever increasing risks, Tubman continued to help others escape. She made 11 more trips south,
leading some 300 people into Canada, including her elderly parents and three brothers. At one point,
slave owners offered $40,000 for her capture, dead or alive.
Harriet Tubman continued…
During the American Civil War between the Northern States of America (Union) and the Southern
States (confederate), Harriet Tubman left Canada and joined the Union Army to serve as a nurse,
scout, and spy. By 1863 she had organised her own band of spies chosen from former slaves who
knew the countryside and could guide the Union forces. In a raid at the Combahee River in South
Carolina, these spies told the Union soldiers how to avoid mines set in the river. Led by Tubman,
former slaves also piloted gunboats down the river and burned crops and buildings. They freed more
than 750 slaves. Harriet Tubman was given credit for planning the raid, becoming the first and only
woman in American history to lead a military attack.
The North won the war in 1865 and Tubman stayed to live in the United States as a free woman.
However, many other Blacks stayed in Canada to contribute to their new homeland. Tubman retired
in New York state and founded a home for the aged. She died in 1913.
The Underground Railroad resulted in the immigration of 40 to 60,000 people at a time when
the population of the Canada's was about 2.5 million.
Tubman herself rescued 100s of slaves to Canada
People risked their own lives to save others.
It showed the moral conscience of humans and that not all believed that slavery was right.
Women and the Vote
The Victorian Times - The UK is the most powerful country in the world and has managed
to take over many other countries with their British Empire. Millions across the world look to
Britain as an example. There was an introduction of technology! The first kinds of cars,
tractors, steam ships, steam trains and household appliances. People wore very smart
clothes. Men had suits with neckties and long coats and women had a lot of focus on the
shape of their bodies! Lots of new houses were being built to deal with the booming
population. Women during the Victorian era were meant to be a servant for their man, they
did not have equal rights. They would want more equality because they believed they
should have the same rights as men.
Reasons why women wanted the vote:
• When Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837 women thought she would introduce
change and men would see a woman could in charge. Instead she introduced no change
and willingly allowed male advisors to tell her what to do.
• Women did not have the same opportunities as men, and had many barriers in their way
for their education or work. Typically they weren't allowed to be doctors or any other
educated professional unless it was a teacher or nurse.
• No laws could legally be changed without an Act of Parliament, which was voted upon by
MPs. If women wanted any change then they needed to be able to vote for MPs who
would support women's rights.
• Everything women did to argue for their equality was disagreed with by men. If they said
they paid taxes, men claimed it wasn't as though they were expected to go to war! If
women did acts to get attention, men said if they were going to be dangerous they didn't
deserve the vote!
• Queen Victoria died in 1901. The Suffragettes thought that without a woman in some
position of power in Britain they would have a lesser chance of success.
Fighting for their Rights
Women's Social and Political Union
Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928) became involved in women's suffrage in 1880. She was a
founding member of the WSPU in 1903 and led it until it disbanded in 1918. Under her leadership
the WSPU was a highly organised group and like other members she was imprisoned and went on
hunger strike protests. WSPU members were determined to obtain the right to vote for women by
any means and campaigned tirelessly and sometimes violently to achieve this aim. They felt that
the impact of peaceful tactics seemed to have been exhausted and a different, more radical
approach was needed. The WSPU undertook more violent acts, including attacks on property and
law-breaking, which resulted in imprisonment and hunger strikes. These tactics attracted a great
deal of attention to the campaign for votes for women.
Ways to win the Vote
• Propaganda posters advertising the equality women want
Chains and buckles for 5 women to chain themselves to railings
Bomb-making materials
Banners and placards for women to hold in parades
An office for the Suffragettes to hold meetings
Bail money (to pay for Suffragettes to be released from prison)
Publicity for 10 women to be on hunger strikes
Paint to graffiti buildings
• A large parade and carnival so speeches could be made
• Leaflets to hand out to politicians
Emily Davison Mystery
When she did her practices she also
practiced getting out of the way.
She never told anyone what she was going
to do at the 1913 Derby- not even her
mother, to whom she was very close
She was not looking at the horses as they
turned the corner- she was looking at the
King’s box opposite the track
She was a very close friend of the
Pankhursts (the leaders of the suffragettes
movement) but didn’t tell them what she
was planning
She had arranged to meet a friend for
lunch the day after the race
She practiced by getting a friend to run at her
as fast as possible whilst she jumped out with
the placard
She bought a return train ticket to the 1913
She had a homemade placard saying “Equal
Rights for Women” which she had hidden
under her jacket
She was well educated with a first class degree
from Oxford University
She had previously gone on hunger strike and
thrown herself down an iron staircase whilst in
prison as a Suffragette
War brings a truce
By 1914 women had still not won the right to vote. When the war broke out, the
Pankhurst's called off their campaign and asked supporters to help with the war effort.
With more men leaving to became soldiers, women got the chance to do jobs they'd never
done before. They became bus drivers, milk deliverers, police officers and car mechanics.
thousands of women worked in munitions factories too. By the end of the war, many
people felt women had earned the right to vote. In 1918 Parliament changed the voting
laws to allow women over the age of 30 to vote.
Alliances in Europe
1.Triple Alliance: This alliance
between Germany, Austria-Hungary
and Italy was signed in 1882. The
Triple Alliance formed a central
block of countries across Europe,
separating France from Russia. It was
a defensive alliance and all three
powers promised to fight if they were
attacked by any other two powers.
3.Britain and Splendid Isolation: At the
end of the 19th Century, Britain played
little part in events in Europe. It was quite
happy to remain isolated from any of the
alliances in Europe as long as no single
power gained complete control. This
isolation, because it was a deliberate
policy on the part of Britain, became
known as ‘splendid isolation’. It
depended on the strength of the British
Navy. Britain was an island and needed a
strong navy for protection and to keep
open trade and communications with its
empire, which was the largest in the
Most of Britain’s problems had involved
clashes with France and Russia in the
colonies. Britain began to realise that the
Franco-Russian Alliance could be
directed against it. Britain’s natural ally
was Germany: it was not a colonial power
and was not therefore seen as a rival to
Britain. Moreover, the royal families of
the two countries were related. One of the
themes of the years 1900 to 1914 is how
Germany, from being Britain’s most likely
ally, became its enemy in the First World
2.The Franco- Russian Alliance: After its defeat by Prussia in
1870, France was forced to sign the Treaty of Frankfurt in 1871,
in which it lost the provinces of Alsace and Lorrain to Germany
and was forced to pay Germany a sum of 5 billion francs (£200
million) in war debts. The French hatred of Germany and their
wish for revenge dominated their foreign policy in the years
leading up to the First World War. However, they could not get
revenge on their own. After Bismarck was dismissed by Kaiser
Wilhelm II in 1890, France was able to sign an agreement with
Russia in 1893.
The terms of the alliance were defensive. Both powers agreed to
join the other in war if either of them was attacked by Germany
or Austria-Hungary.
4.Anglo-Japanese Alliance - In 1902 Britain and Japan
signed an alliance in which they promised to help each
other if one of them was attacked by more than one
power. This meant that splendid isolation was more
splendid than ever. The Boer War ended without any
European action against Britain and now Britain had an
ally in the Far East to prevent Russian expansion there.
Britain did not need any allies in Europe.
5.The Entente Cordiale - Britain was becoming worried
by the size of the German naval fleet. It was not strong
enough to challenge Britain, but it could hold the balance
of power in any war between Britain and France or
Britain and Russia. So, in 1902 Britain put its navy on the
‘three-power standard’. This meant that it had to be as
large as the next three largest fleets in the world
combined. Germany had made it clear that it did not
want to ally with either Britain or France, so Britain and
France looked to sorting out the problems between
them. In 1903-04 the two countries signed the Entente
Cordiale (friendly agreement). In this, France allowed
Britain to go ahead with reforms in Egypt and Britain
promised not to oppose any French action in Morocco.
The Entente Cordiale was an agreement, not an alliance.
Britain had no intention of becoming involved in
European affairs. Its colonial problems in Egypt had
been solved, its ally Japan was defeating Russia in the
Far East and its navy had reached the three power
standard. Germany did not see it this way. It thought that
Britain had abandoned isolation and joined France.
Germany seemed intent on challenging the Entente
Reasons for Joining Up
• Peer Pressure
• Fear of being called a coward
• Loving your country (Patriotic)
• Propaganda
• Ignorance
• Fighting for a ‘just’ cause
Propaganda is
way of
persuading the
general public
to do
something. It
was used
greatly by the
during the First
World War.