Testimony before the House Committee on Natural ResourcesSubcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental RegulationRep. Dan MaffeiJune 6, 2013
As Prepared for Delivery:Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee for the opportunity to testify todayon this important legislation.I am proud to be the sponsor of the Harriet Tubman National Historical Parks Act, H.R. 664.The bill would honor Harriet Tubman by creating two national historical parks in her honor: oneon the Eastern Shore of Maryland where she was born and began the Underground Railroad; andone in Auburn, New York, where she made her home for more than forty years before her deathin 1913.These sites have been proposed and endorsed by the National Parks Service and outlined in aSpecial Resource Study transmitted to Congress in January 2009.The legacy Harriet Tubman left
is one of America’s lasting treasures and we should honor her as
the first African-American woman to have national park established in her honor. Her life andher work embody the values all Americans hold dear
she stood for freedom, life, liberty, andthe pursuit of happiness.
She was born a slave in Dorchester County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in 1822 and worked
there as a slave until 1849.At age 27 she escaped from slavery and fled north.She returned to Maryland many times to lead others out of slavery, navigating the secret path tofreedom known as the Underground Railroad.
As a prominent “conductor” of the Underground Railroad, she became known as the “Moses of Her People” and never lost a passenger in all her years of work
leading people to freedom.During the Civil War she served our country as a cook, a nurse, and a spy for the Union Army.Following the war, she settled in
Central New York and fought for women’s rights as a suffragist
alongside Susan B. Anthony and Emily Howland.She made her home in Auburn, New York, where she purchased property from William Seward,
President Lincoln’s Secretary of State
, a friend and neighbor.There she established the Tubman Home for the Aged to help care for elderly African-Americansand helped establish the Thompson Memorial AME Zion Church.