Delaware commemorates Harriet Tubman Day

March 14, 2014
Harriet Tubman (as portrayed by Delores Blakey) holds a copy of the Harriet Tubman Day proclamation. Behind her are (l-r) Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Director Tim Slavin; the Rev. Rita Mishoe Paige, pastor of Star Hill African Methodist Episcopal Church in Dover; Ann Gravatt from the Delaware Department of Transportation; Chief Deputy Secretary of State Rick Geisenberger; and state Rep. Donald Blakey, R-Dover South. SOURCE SUBMITTED

Gov. Jack Markell issued a proclamation declaring March 10 as Harriet Tubman Day in Delaware in commemoration of the 101st anniversary of the death of the noted Underground Railroad conductor. The proclamation was delivered by Chief Deputy Secretary of State Rick Geisenberger in a March 6 ceremony at Dover’s Old State House.

Born a slave in 1820, Tubman is probably the most well-known figure on the Underground Railroad. She is credited with personally escorting more than 300 slaves to freedom on more than 20 separate trips through Maryland and Delaware. These escapes included her own from a Dorchester County, Md. farm in 1849.

Tubman was an abolitionist, humanitarian and Union spy during the Civil War. Her 100 percent success rate in helping slaves escape to freedom made her a legend throughout the country. She is documented as traveling through Sussex and Kent counties in Delaware with the aid of local black families, and she frequently collaborated with noted abolitionist Thomas Garrett of Wilmington.

Their role is featured prominently in the exhibit An Illegal Activity: The Underground Railroad in Delaware, which is currently on display at the First State Heritage Welcome Center and Galleries in Dover. After the war, Tubman settled in Auburn, N.Y., and died there March 10, 1913. This date is now celebrated nationally as Harriet Tubman Day.