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This is number 165 of 585 Primary Sources.

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Harriet Tubman's Letter to Lincoln

Primary source: Harriet Tubman to President Abraham Lincoln, letter, 1862.
Caption: After escaping from slavery in 1849, Harriet Tubman became one of the most prominent abolitionists and a driving force behind the various secret escape routes for slaves. In this quotation from a letter by another great abolitionist, Lydia Maria Child, Tubman seeks to influence President Abraham Lincoln.

. . . God won't let Master Lincoln beat the South until he does the right thing. Master Lincoln, he's a great man, and I'm a poor Negro but this Negro can tell Master Lincoln how to save money and young men. He can do it by setting the Negroes free. Suppose there was an awful big snake down there on the floor. He bites you. Folks all scared, because you may die. You send for doctor to cut the bite; but the snake is rolled up there, and while the doctor is doing it, he bites you again. The doctor cuts out that bite; but while he's doing it, the snake springs up and bites you again, and so he keeps doing it, till you kill him. That's what Master Lincoln ought to know. . . . 

Harriet Tubman quoted by Lydia Maria Child (21 January 1862), in William Friedheim, with Ronald Jackson, Freedom's Unfinished Revolution, American Social History Project (New York: The New Press, 1996), 62.



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