(Following is one of 101 Stories of Uncommon Women in History, told in honor of Woman’s History Month.

Harriet Tubman, 1820–1913

"There's two things I got a right to and these are Death and Liberty. If I could not have one, I would have the other." ~ Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in Bucktown, Maryland in 1820. Harriet began working at the age of 5 and by the age of 12, she was working as a field hand, plowing and hauling wood.

At 13, while defending a fellow slave who tried to run away, her overseer struck her in the head with a two-pound weight. This resulted in recurring narcoleptic seizures, or sleeping spells, that plagued her for the rest of her life.

Despite the hardships inflicted upon her, Harriet used her labors for self discipline and set for herself the goal of escaping to the North. She accomplished this goal in 1849, when alone and on foot she ran away from the plantation in the middle of the night. She traveled only at night, until she knew she had crossed the border between slaveholding and non-slaveholding states.

She later said ~ "I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person now I was free. There was such a glory over everything ... and I felt like I was in heaven."

Harriet had bravely won her freedom, but she made a vow that she would help her family and friends win their freedom as well and became involved with the Underground Railroad, a secret network through which slaves were helped in escaping from bondage in the South to freedom in the North and Canada.

Harriet Tubman undertook some 20 hazardous missions in which she led over 300 slaves to freedom. Her name quickly spread throughout the slave quarters and abolitionist societies. Angered the Southern slaveholders offered $40,000 for her capture. But Harriet always evaded slave catchers and would not quit, even when her illiteracy nearly got her caught when she fell asleep under her own wanted poster.

During the Civil War (1861-1865), Harriet Tubman served with the Union Army as a cook, laundress, nurse, scout, and spy behind Confederate lines

In 1865, Harriet began caring for wounded black soldiers as the matron of the Colored Hospital at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. She continued helping others after the war, raising money for freedmen's schools, helping destitute children and caring for her parents.

In 1868, she transformed her family's home into the Home for Aged and Indigent Colored People. She also lobbied for educational opportunities for freedmen and took up the suffragist cause and in 1896 she was a delegate to the National Association of Colored Women's first annual convention. She believed the right to vote was vital to preserving their freedom.

Living past ninety, Harriet Tubman died in Auburn on March 10, 1913. She was given a full military funeral and was buried in Fort Hill Cemetery. In 1944, Eleanor Roosevelt christened the Liberty Ship Harriet Tubman, and in 1995 the U.S. Postal Service honored her life with a postage stamp.

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The women featured in this series defied all odds to create bold, inspirational lives and in doing so achieved greatness on their own terms. Even today, we can learn from their courage and clarity of purpose. Some stories will be shared on my blog, others posted on our Facebook page @ http://fb.com/inspiredgiftgiving.com.

Author's Bio: 

Marquita lives in Maui, Hawaii and her professional background includes a successful 20 year sales and marketing career traveling the world promoting the Hawaiian Islands, followed by seven years as award winning coach working with new entrepreneurs building a home based businesses. Currently she is indulging her passion for writing by growing a lifestyle blog and writing a book, while continuing to provide training and support to new entrepreneurs.