TITLE OF BILL: An act 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 legis-
lation 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 Tubman Day.
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.
JUSTIFICATION: 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 hem 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 limita-
tions that were placed on her as a slave and as a black woman.
In 1849, Harriet Tubman escaped to the North and settled in Philadelp-
hia. While in Philadelphia, Harriet Tubman met William Still, the Phila-
delphia 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
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 in St. '
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 acauaineance 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 remain-
ing 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 memo-
ry. Harriet Tubman was buried in Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, New York
with full military honors. Currently, the Harriet Tubman home and prop-
erty 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 esti-
mated 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: Undetermined.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This legislation will take effect on the first of Janu-
ary, next succeeding the date on which it shall have become a law.