BILL NUMBER:S971 REVISED 01/10/2011
TITLE OF BILL:
to amend the general construction law, in relation to the designation of
Harriet Tubman day
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
The primary purpose of this legislation is to establish a public
holiday that commemorates Harriet Tubman, her life achievements and
her pivotal role in the "Underground Railroad". The legislation will
designate the tenth of March of each year, to be known as Harriet
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
This legislation will make the tenth of March of each year a public
holiday, to be known as Harriet Tubman Day.
Harriet Ross Tubman was an American heroine and patriot, who
faithfully served her country and liberated her people. Her tireless
efforts to attain freedom for those enslaved, and her dedication to
stop the inhumane practice of slavery should be recognized and
celebrated. It is only fitting to pay tribute to an American heroine,
who sacrificed everything for the well being of her people and
country. The creation of a state holiday, that recognizes the
lifetime achievements and the historical legacy established by
Harriet Tubman, throughout New York State is befitting.
Harriet Ross Tubman, the great American abolitionist, was born on the
Eastern Shore of Maryland around 1820, on a plantation in Dorchester
County, Maryland. As in the case of many slaves, Harriet Tubman was
put to work as a field hand at an early age. Because of her color and
her status as a slave, she was denied the opportunity to learn to
read or write. Nevertheless, Harriet Tubman was able to rise above
the limitations that were placed on her as a slave and as a black
In 1849, Harriet Tubman escaped to the North and settled in
Philadelphia. While in Philadelphia, Harriet Tubman met William
Still, the Philadelphia Stationmaster of the "Underground Railroad".
It was William Still along with the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society
that introduced Harriet Tubman to the inner workings of the
"underground Railroad". The "underground Railroad" was a network of
families and people that offered their assistance, food or shelter to
slaves, during their escape to the north.
One year after her escape, Harriet Tubman became a conductor (guide
who led escaped slaves to freedom) on the "Underground Railroad". In
1851, Harriet Tubman relocated members of her family to North Street
Catherines Ontario, Canada. This eventually became her headquarters
for the "Underground Railroad". In the ensuing years, Harriet Tubman
became one of the most influential conductors. In the mid 1850s
Harriet Tubman made the acquaintance of United states Senator,
Secretary of State and former New York State Governor William H.
Seward and his wife Frances in Auburn, New York. The Sewards in 1857,
provided a home for Harriet Tubman in Auburn, New York, which was
later sold to her. This new home was to become her new base of
operations for the Underground Railroad.
When the civil War began, Harriet Tubman was able to liberate several
hundreds of her people to freedom, via the "Underground Railroad". As
the most influential conductor in the "Underground Railroad", Harriet
Tubman helped free approximately 300 slaves. Harriet Tubman was proud
to claim that, "she never ran her train off the track and never lost
a passenger." When the Civil War began, Harriet Tubman served as a
cook in the Union Army in South Carolina, a nurse, a scout for
raiding parties, and a spy behind confederate lines. After her
service to the Union army, Harriet Tubman returned to Auburn, New
York where she lived the remaining years of her life.
In 1903, Harriet Tubman transferred ownership of her property to the
A.M.E. Zion Church. After her death in March 1913, the church
developed and managed her home and adjacent property in order to
sustain her memory. Harriet Tubman was buried in Fort Hill Cemetery
in Auburn, New York with full military honors. Currently, the Harriet
Tubman home and property are registered as National Historic
Landmarks in Auburn, New York.
The site is also part of the National Parks Service Freedom Trail.
Harriet Tubman was many things to many people, but to the black slave
she was considered to be the "Black Moses" who delivered to them the
"buried promise of freedom". Harriet Tubman through her actions and
life embodied the true essence of service, spirit and strength. It is
estimated that through her service about 300 slaves were able to
attain their freedom. Because of her spirit, countless slaves were
given hope and through her strength and conviction, she was compelled
to risk her own freedom so that other slaves could experience
freedom. Through the establishment of a state holiday, this
legislation aims to ensure that the rich historical legacy and life
achievements of Harriet Tubman are recognized and celebrated
throughout New York State.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2009-10: S.4027/A.3416B (Pretlow) - Reported and Committed to Finance
2000: A.9200/S.621B Passed Assembly
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT:
This legislation will take effect on the first of January, next
succeeding the date on which it shall have become a law.