The Civil Writer Magazine

Harriet Tubman aka Araminta Ross, Minty Moses; Harriet was her mother’s first name. She was an abolitionist and political activist from Dorchester County, MD. Born into slavery, Tubman was beaten and whipped by her various masters as a child and once hit in the head that caused seizures and headaches.

The story goes that another slave who had left the fields without permission was at the store. When the man’s overseer ordered Tubman to help restrain the slave, she refused. The overseer threw a 2-pound weight at her head.

As history is told Tubman escaped and subsequently made some thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy enslaved people, family and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad.

With all the heroic things that made her a legend there comes the unspeakable that becomes more revealing as science shines light on her strategic use of drugs on children as a tool to keep them silent as she transported young families to freedom.

During the Civil War Harriet volunteered as a nurse for the Union Army and would confiscate opium, not for herself but to assist in her plan to free slaves. With careful planning, plenty of luck, and a little opium she would be on her way. Harriet had two disciplinary tools on her waist, a gun for keeping the adults in line and opium for the children. In order to keep the children from crying along the trails Harriet had to give them opium by rubbing it on their gums. While leading groups of runaways on a 650-mile odyssey from eastern Maryland to St. Catharines, Ontario, for months it required a lot of opium on the gums of babies and young children.

The hidden story that Black history doesn't tell is, some if not all the children became opioid dependent with physical and psychological reliance on opioid from the drops of opium and alcohol that was given to the children to keep them silent. Some will believe it was a moral failing on Harriet's behalf being it was done on purpose but the cause was greater than the risk. Had the families remained in slavery the risk was just as great to be killed or split up from being sold.