#24 Rescue on the River, #22 Freedom at the Falls, and the Harriet Tubman movie (October 2019) Part 1
Rescue on the River (book #24) released October 8! The movie Harriet releases on October 31. I can help you be in the know about the movie because of all the research co-author Sheila Seifert and I did for the Imagination Station series, mainly on the Combahee River Raid. (That's the scene in the movie trailer where she's in the boat and cocking a rifle.)
Harriet Tubman's Family Basics
Her grandmother (Modesty) was brought over on a slave ship. One source said she was from the Ashanti tribe, who now live in Ghana. Harriet was only 5 feet tall. Interestingly, Harriet was her mother's name, which she took before heading North, possibly when she married. (This is different from the trailer, which shows her taking the name after she escaped, which is also possible.) Her birth name was Araminta Ross, Minty for short. As one of nine children, she cherished family. After marrying John Tubman, she escaped. Two of her brothers escaped with her — Ben and Harry. But they returned to the plantation; Harriet may have also gone back and escaped later or she kept going. (The sources I read differed.) When she came back for John, she found he had already married another woman. (Sob!)
Slave Catchers in the Civil War
As soon as Harriet ran away, there was a price for her capture. It started at $50 for anyone who captured her in state (Maryland) and returned her to her "owner" Eliza Ann Brodess. At one point, the reward for catching Harriet was $40,000, which is more than $600,000 now.
(For further emersion into Civil War cinema, the movie named The Retrieval is a tear-jerker and deals with this slave catching topic.)
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 made everyone a slave catcher; it was illegal not to help return a fugitive slave, even in the North. Bummer! Some professional slave catchers wore badges like this:
In Imagination Station book #22, Freedom at the Falls, I created a fictional slave name Sally. She hid on board President-elect Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural train because she was trying to get to Canada. (Mammy Sally was the name of one of Mary Todd Lincoln's family's slaves (a cook), with whom she was close.) I made Mary Todd Lincoln the hero of the story because her influence over her husband's stand on slavery is uncontested. Mary was the staunch abolitionist, not Abe.
The slave catchers carried guns and whips. Some had dogs. Scary bunch.
Okay, this is a tangent from the Revolutionary War, but here goes: One of Patrick Henry’s slaves took to heart Henry’s cry of “Give me liberty, or give me death”—and fled. I love the tagline from the Harriet movie, "Live Free or Die."
Five Random Harriet Tubman Facts
#1 The only other movie that Harriet has a large role in is Abraham Lincoln: Vampier Hunter.
#2 Before the war, Harriet made a last trip when she brought a family over, the Ennals. The infant had to be kept quiet, right? They drugged it with paregoric (a.k.a. opium) — "hush, little baby."
#3 Harriet robbed the cradle when she was 59 and married a man 22 years younger! (Nelson Davis; March 1869)
#4 Due to an assault by a white slave owner or store clerk, her head was injured when she was young. As a result, she suffered from headaches and didn't sleep well. Subsequently, she had surgery with no anesthesia. Instead, she bit on a bullet like the Civil War soldiers.
#5 Always a controversy. A statue of Harriet Tubman by Alison Saar is in Boston — facing South! Some ask, Why not North? The bronze statue is 10 feet tall, twice her true height.
Next week, Part 2 of Harriet Tubman and Imagination Station #24 Rescue on the River.