Harriet Tubman was a civil rights activist that led hundreds of enslaved people on a quest towards freedom. She was an exemplary leader for slaves across the U.S. She continued her leadership career in the Underground Railroad and for the Union Army during the Civil War. Her mission was bringing people to freedom. She had many admiral leadership characteristics that helped her achieve her mission.
Harriet was born in 1820, she died in March of 1913. She was born into a life of slavery, along with her family members. Physical violence was a big aspect of Harriet’s life as a child. One injury caused her to suffer from seizures, severe headaches and narcoleptic episodes for the rest of her life (biography.com, 2018). In 1844, Harriet married a free black man, his name was John Tubman. John chose to stay in Maryland, rather than make the voyage on the Underground Railroad with Harriet. In 1869, Harriet married again, a Civil War veteran named Nelson Davis. In 1874, the couple adopted a girl named Gertie.
Throughout Harriet Tubman’s life she is most known for leading the Underground Railroad. Harriet is most famous for being the “conductor” of the underground railroad. She risked her life to free others from slavery. In 1849, Harriet decided to escape slavery in Maryland for Philadelphia after the death of her owner. Her two brothers joined her, however, the brothers returned home because of second thoughts. Harriet set off alone for freedom. “Making use of the network known as the Underground Railroad, Tubman traveled nearly 90 miles to Philadelphia. She crossed into the free state of Pennsylvania with a feeling of relief and awe and recalled later: “When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven” (biography.com, 2018). Instead of staying in her life of newfound freedom, Harriet made it her mission to rescue her family and others living in slavery. After many trips, she was able to get family and about sixty others to freedom. Harriet earned the nickname Moses for her leadership. Harriet also worked as a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War. After the Underground Railroad Harriet participated during the Civil War. She was working for the Union Army as a cook, a nurse and soon after an armed spy. Harriet was the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war. Her expedition liberated more than seven hundred slaves in South Carolina(biography.com, 2018). Another one of Harriet’s accomplishments was when she established a home for elderly Black Americans. As she became older, she also resided in the home at the end of her days. Harriet’s leadership style was strong and worked throughout her life. Harriet Tubman was a fearless and courageous leader. Harriet understood the importance of being a source of inspiration to the slaves she was guiding. She would tell stories to make them laugh or to remind them of their past difficulties as a slave to keep them focused on finding freedom (Thompson, 2015). She knew the importance of giving the people hope. This aided in reminding them of their self-value and individual humanity. Even when something didn’t seem right or when she was navigating through unknown territory, Harriet always made an effort to hide her fear or concern (Thompson, 2015). She undoubtedly led with confidence. “Harriet’s risk of harm to herself did not deter from an unending battle of freedom for slaves. Whether risking her own life for a single slave or hundreds at a time, Harriet did whatever she could to liberate others how had been oppressed. Freedom for herself only seemed to motivate her further in the struggle against slavery” (Lichtenalner, 2018). There is no question regarding how Harriet Tubman had risked her life to free others from the horrendous life associated with slavery. She never gave up or got scared from her mission. Harriet could have decided to stay in the free state but instead she was determined and put others ahead of herself.
Harriet Tubman possessed and displayed many prime leadership characteristics throughout her life. This is truly the whole-hearted reason why she was such a noble figure. As stated in the Marine Corps Manual, the “sum of those qualities of intellect, human understanding, and moral character that enables a person to inspire and control a group of people successfully.” Harriet Tubman is a prime example of a successful leader, based on the Marine Corps definition. Some other leadership traits Harriet embodied were initiative, courage, enthusiasm, and decisiveness. She had initiative because when something needed to be done, she got it done. She had courage because even though she safely made it to freedom she was brave enough to go back to assist others. She was enthusiastic because throughout her mission she made sure to be an inspiration to the people and give them hope.
Lastly, she was decisive because even in the toughest of moments she had the ability to make sound decisions for herself and others. In my eyes, Harriet Tubman was a truly successful leader. She is someone that I hope to learn leadership qualities from. Without leaders like Harriet Tubman, the course of history and society would have been forever altered.
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