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Harriet Tubman (c.1820-1913), originally Araminta Ross, was a runaway slave and abolitionist who guided some 300 fellow runaways to freedom as one of the most famous and successful "conductors" on the Underground Railroad. The so-called Railroad was a secret network of safe houses where slaves were hidden on their journey northward. To facilitate its success, Tubman journeyed perilously back into the South at least a dozen times, and was able to bring her parents and brother to freedom. Tubman was also a prominent antislavery lecturer and a friend of famous abolitionists such as John Brown, who may have told her about his secret plan to raid the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry and foment a slave revolt.

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