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Rep. Dan Maffei - House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Land Opening Statement

Rep. Dan Maffei - House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Land Opening Statement

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Published by robertharding22
Rep. Dan Maffei's opening statements at the House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on the Harriet Tubman National Historical Parks Act.
Rep. Dan Maffei's opening statements at the House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on the Harriet Tubman National Historical Parks Act.

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Published by: robertharding22 on Jun 06, 2013
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07/10/2013

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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.
 
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Since Tubman’s death 100 years ago in 1913, her gravesite in Auburn has become a place
of  pilgrimage for thousands of people who want to honor Harriet Tubman and the legendary roleshe played in our American history and culture.The Maryland site, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, willinclude the likely birthplace of Harriet Tubman; the home site of Jacob Jackson, an associate of 
Tubman whose home was one of the first “stops” on the Underground Railroad; the Brodess
Farm, where Tubman was sent as a child to be trained as a seamstress and worked as a slave; andother important sites. It encompasses the land she navigated while helping escaped slaves travelnorth.But, establishing this park is not just about our 
nation’s
history and the past.It is also about the present and our future, particularly our economic future in Central New York.This new park would be a significant piece of an emerging tourist region with both historical andnatural attractions.In fact, data from similar national parks indicates that annual attendance could increase as muchas 20,000 new visitors per year 
 – 
driving millions of dollars in new revenue to businesses in theregion and creating new jobs.The tourism industry currently provides over $350 of tax relief annually to every household inCayuga County where the proposed park is located.Officials estimate the National Park would create dozens of new jobs and drive over millions of dollars of new tourism spending to the region annually.That is a big part of the reason why the bill is strongly supported by both communities; inAuburn, New York and on the Eastern Shore in Maryland.The governors of both New York and Maryland also strongly support the legislation. State andlocal officials in both states also strongly support this effort.I have here copies of local newspaper opinion editorials from the Syracuse Post Standard and theAuburn Citizen that I would like to submit for the record.The bill has also been endorsed by the National Association for the Advancement of ColoredPeople (NAACP), the National Organization for Women (NOW), the National Urban League(NUL), the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), and the National Parks ConservationAssociation.The bill currently has 64 bipartisan cosponsors from Maryland, New York and elsewhere in thenation.

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