Harriet Tubman: Comparing The Strategies Of Abolitionists

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Throughout history and particularly around the 1840s, many abolitionists have contributed to the rescuing of indentured servants and slaves under the control of white-southern plantation owners. Using the underground railroad to provide passage to these slaves, they made trips under the cover of night by foot and wagon, so as not to be caught as easily. Among the abolitionists, the most known and recognized for their efforts were Harriet Tubman, John Brown, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

To begin with, Araminta Ross, better known as Harriet Tubman, who was also a slave when younger herself, led and took many challenging journeys, traveling back and forth between the north and the south, to help free as many slaves as she could. By 1860, she had already made the perilous trip to slave country 19 times, escorting over 300 slaves in total to freedom in the north, in which she was recognized as “Moses” or the “conductor” by her people. It was for this she had a $40,000 reward for her capture on her head. On the contrary, John Brown, a radical abolitionist and insurrectionist, was often looked upon as a martyr, madman, or even sometimes, a hero. In 1858, Brown had enlisted and led a small army to raid the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. While Brown’s goal was to capture supplies to create a slave rebellion and uprising, the plan was poorly executed, leading to John Brown’s capture and hanging, but not before becoming an anti-slavery icon (History.com Editors).

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To continue, John Brown, who was too much of a visionary and not enough of a businessman, was also known to lead missions of revenge, one, which occurred during Bleeding Kansas, that was known as the Pottawatomie Massacre. This entailed him taking six of his followers, including four of his sons, traveling along the Pottawatomie River after visiting the homes of pro-slavery men, and hacking them to death alongside the river. Brown also led attacks on plantations, which accomplished very little in a movement to free slaves. Brown and Harriet Beecher Stowe both believed that their efforts as abolitionists were the will of god. As John had helped with first hand slavery in the south, Stowe had taken a different approach as an abolitionist and only used the information she heard and had been given to write books about slavery. Her most famous, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was published in its entirety and 500,000 copies were sold within four years, later becoming a book with the most sold copies in the world besides the Bible. As Stowe remained deeply religious and a supporter of reform movements, her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was thought to have started the Civil War, but in fact, coupled with many other factors, it was only like “throwing a gallon of lighter fluid onto the already-smoldering debate” (packet).

As others saw the best way to make a change and contribute was to physically incorporating themselves in the effort, Stowe saw an opportunity to make a change through the tip of her pen. In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, there is stunning honesty and horrific word usuage that makes the content’s reality that much more shocking and the after effect profound, which increased the opposition of slavery in the north. Her work with the book made it difficult for detractors to dismiss it as just a work of fiction (Sinha 3). Both Stowe and Tubman were black abolitionists that took an attitude on abolition and black rights, but front different perspectives. As Stowe, an anti-slavery abolitionists wrote, Tubman worked tirelessly to make dozens of dangerous trips between the north and south saving hundreds from their imprisoners and showing them the way to the free life that they never had.

In conclusion, Harriet Tubman’s abolitionist strategies were undoubtedly favored above all. Tubman’s strategies brought many enslaved African Americans into the protection of the north, including Tubman’s parents and siblings, giving them a completely different and beneficial lifestyle. While Stowe’s and Brown’s strategies were in support of the effort, the strategies were executed poorly causing more harm than good. Stowe’s book caused much more opposition in the north about slavery than there previously was, but also “dumped a gallon of gasoline on an already ignited fire”, leading to the inevitable Civil War in later years. While Brown’s efforts were geared towards helping enslaved African Americans break free, the poor execution of his efforts led to his demise as well as many others, leaving the enslaved with one less abolitionist, and leaving damage with many of his efforts described as radical.   


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