A Woman and a Sister Too? The Intertwining of Emancipation and Early Feminism


Harriet Tubman (1820-1913) Manuscript letter (amanuensis copy) to Wendell Phillips, 1860.

Little more than an IOU, this letter to Boston abolitionist Wendell Phillips from Harriet Tubman is extraordinary evidence linking the two abolitionists together. Though illiterate, Tubman dedicated her life to emancipation by leading slaves out of the South through escape routes and safe houses, known colloquially as "the Underground Railroad." A former slave herself, she was a radical abolitionist and an ally of William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and John Brown, who addressed her as "General Tubman." Later in life, she became an avid suffragist, collaborating with Susan B. Anthony and others. Tubman defied expectations based on her race and gender through her militant struggles against oppression.

bMS Am 1953 (1236) – Gift of Crawford Blagden, 1978.