March 10, 2010

Harriet Tubman Day – U.S.

Harriet Tubman was strong, brave, and hard working on behalf of others, and this day commemorates her life; she was born a slave some time in 1820 or 1821, and she died on March 10, 1913.

After Tubman escaped from slavery, traveling from Maryland to Pennsylvania, she made thirteen trips back to the south to rescue other slaves and bring them north to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Because of this, she has been called a conductor on the Underground Railroad and also the Moses of her people.

Tubman's first rescue missions were to bring her family north to freedom. Eventually she guided other slaves north, and she ended up rescuing more than 70 slaves. She said later that she “never lost a passenger.”

Tubman proved her exceptional bravery because any runaway caught in the south would be returned to slavery, and she proved her exceptional strength because she had to withstand a terrible head wound as well as many beatings and other mistreatment. An overseer had thrown a two-pound metal weight at another slave, and it hit Tubman in the head. Just a teenager, bleeding and unconscious, Tubman was given no medical attention. Two days later, she was sent back into the fields. Tubman had problems from this head injury, including severe headaches and seizures, all her life.

During the Civil War, Tubman worked hard to defeat the Confederacy. She acted as a nurse to Union troops, helped slaves who took advantage of the war to run away, led bands of scouts to map out unfamiliar land, and acted as a spy for the Union. Tubman even led an armed assault, the first woman to do so in the Civil War, and more than 700 slaves were rescued during that raid.

After the Civil War and slavery were ended, Tubman tended to her family (including her aging parents) and also worked for women's right to vote. She donated land to be used for a home for elderly people.

Harriet Tubman was widely known and greatly respected in her own time, but she was seldom paid for her nursing and spying services, invaluable though they were, and she was quite poor. One time that she received an honor, she had to sell a cow in order to afford the railroad ticket to go to the celebrations!

Luckily, some people who were busy heaping praise and honors on her also raised donations to partially pay her back for her service to her country. Unluckily, at one point two men swindled her in what
sounds like her time's version of the Nigerian e-mail scam.

All in all, Harriet Tubman had an eventful life, but never an easy one. Her strength and morality won for her fame but never fortune.

Read more about the raid
that Harriet Tubman led on the National Geographic Kids site.

On the regular National Geographic website, there is a feature about the Underground Railroad.

Do a word-search puzzle about Harriet Tubman at Surfing the Net with Kids.

Check out this slide show to see just a small part of the legacy of Harriet Tubman.

Here is a picture of Harriet Tubman that you can print and color.

Also on this date...
Happy Birthday, Marcello Malpighi

Born on this date in 1628, Malpighi was an Italian doctor and biologist who was one of the first scientists to use a microscope to study living things.

He confirmed the existence of capillaries, which are tiny, thin-skinned blood vessels that allow blood to move out of the circulatory system and into tissues, as well of course as the other direction, from the tissues back into the circulatory system. (Biologist William Harvey had inferred that there must be such things as capillaries but hadn't been able to see them.)

He made many discoveries, including taste buds and the small holes that insects breathe through, and he contributed to the science of embryology (the science of how creatures develop inside eggs or wombs).

Plus a lot more!

Use a v
irtual microscope.

The Power of Ten takes you from outside the Milky Way Galaxy all the way to teeny-tiny quarks—but along the way, you will see some pretty good microscopic views of an oak leaf.

Here is a neat quiz in which you match the microscopic view of something with the correct label. Try it—it's interesting!

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