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It's 1850, and you have recently escaped from a plantation in Maryland. It was difficult to leave your family behind, but you now live as a freedwoman in Philadelphia. Just as you're starting to build a new life, you receive news that your family is in danger.

Will you call upon your friends for support? Or will you take the ultimate risk to help your family escape?

Harriet Tubman.jpg
Library of Congress

After the dilemma:

What really happened

     This dilemma is based on the life of Harriet Tubman (1820-1913). She is one of the most courageous people in US History. Tubman escaped from a plantation in Maryland, but she soon received word that her family was in danger. Tubman risked her life by returning to the plantation and guiding her family to freedom in Pennsylvania. 


     Over the next ten years, Tubman continued to travel back and forth across the Mason Dixon Line, leading dozens of men and women to freedom. There was a $40,000 bounty on her head, but she was never caught.

     During the Civil War, Tubman was a nurse and a spy for the Union Army. She would wear a disguise and wander through Confederate-controlled towns, gathering information from enslaved men and women.


     After the Civil War, she joined the women's suffrage movement, and she opened a home for elderly African American men and women in New York. When Tubman died, she was buried with full military honors. 



Underground Railroad, Slavery, Mason Dixon Line, Harriet Tubman

Disclaimer: Several schools have made headlines for using poorly-conceived Underground Railroad simulations and "games". This dilemma is not a skit to be acted out or a game. It is a narrative about a serious and sensitive topic. 

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Elizabeth Catlett, 1947
Wikimedia Commons
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