The Fugitive

From The New York Times:

Bell190 Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross around 1822, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She was the property of Edward Brodess, an unprosperous farmer who staved off bankruptcy by hiring out or selling his slaves. First hired out at the age of 6, Minty, as she was known, was beaten for poor performance of housework she’d never been taught to do. Her hire-masters tried using her to check muskrat traps, and kept her wading through cold water during a bout of measles until she collapsed. Still, she preferred outdoor labor. In her early 20s, she made a deal with one of her hire-masters, Brodess’s stepbrother A. C. Thompson, which permitted her to find her own jobs and keep whatever earnings were left after both Thompson and Brodess had satisfied their claims.

When Tubman was 13, her skull was fractured by a two-pound lead weight launched in a dispute between an overseer and another slave. Brodess promptly tried to sell his damaged property, but found no takers. Minty recovered but soon began having visions and conversations with God. She had witnessed the Leonid meteor shower of 1833, a revelation of falling stars that many thought portended a great upheaval in the order of things. In later life, Tubman would claim she had always known how to follow the North Star, which led to freedom.

More here.