After war ended in a Northern victory in 1865, Tubman expected the U.S. government to pay her for her wartime service. After all, the Union had offered a bounty (reward) to people who recruited new soldiers. Counting the freed slaves Tubman had convinced to sign up after the Combahee River mission, she figured the government owed her $1,800. But the government refused to pay her the money, even when Secretary of State William Seward (1801-1872; see entry) made a personal appeal on her behalf.
As a result, Tubman lived in relative poverty after the war. She had a home in Auburn, New York, that she shared with her parents. She earned a living by selling fruits and vegetables from her garden door-to-door. The people in town welcomed her into their homes, bought her goods, and listened to her amazing stories about the Underground Railroad. In 1867, Tubman's friend Sarah Bradford published a book called Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman. This book discussed Tubman's accomplishments before and during the war and included statements of praise from her important friends, such as Frederick Douglass. Bradford gave the money she earned from sales of the book to Tubman, who used it to build schools to educate freed slaves and facilities to nurse sick and injured blacks.
In 1869, Tubman married Nelson Davis. In the 1870s, she threw her support behind efforts to secure the right to vote for women. In 1897, Tubman received a medal from Queen Victoria (1819-1901) of England. In 1908, she donated land in Auburn to the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. The site was to be used for a home for sick and elderly black people. Tubman had several disagreements with the church about how the home should be run, but they eventually settled their differences. As she grew frail, Tubman moved into the home in 1911. She died of pneumonia on March 10,
1913, at the age of ninety-three. A group of Union Army veterans arranged for her to receive a military funeral.
"Harriet Tubman's life story is an inspiration to blacks and women in their ongoing battle for equal rights," Bree Burns wrote in Harriet Tubman and the Fight against Slavery. "She is remembered as a hero who was not afraid to fight for her beliefs. Tubman's dedication to justice has become a model for all Americans."
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