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What Makes a Person Willing to Risk Capture in Order to Help Others?

During the time of American slavery, enslaved individuals were the “property” of their “owners.” This system of slavery was known as “chattel slavery.” The word “chattel” means “property.”

At the same time as Americans lived as free individuals - via rights guaranteed by their Constitution - enslaved African-Americans were anything but free. Runaway slaves, who were searching for a better life, were routinely captured and returned to their “masters.”

As more slaves ran away, a system called “The Underground Railroad” came into existence. Keeping with the railroad metaphor, individuals who helped others escape to freedom were called “Conductors.” One of the most-famous Conductors on the Underground Railroad was Harriet Tubman.

When Harriet became a free woman, she returned to the South - again and again - to keep helping others reach America’s “free states.” She once said: “I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person now I was free.”

What did Harriet mean by that statement?

Why was it her hands that prompted Harriet to make such an observation?

Were you ever in a situation where you didn’t feel free? Describe what happened to make you feel unfree. What did you do to regain your freedom?

Why would Harriet Tubman risk her life, over and over, to help others obtain freedom? What kind of character would she need to take-on such life-threatening work?


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