The most famous “conductor” on the Underground Railroad was Harriet Tubman, a courageous, self-taught, charismatic escaped slave, single-minded in her dedication to freeing others. Born in Dorchester County, Maryland, about 1821, she escaped to freedom about 1849 by following the North Star. Not content with having achieved her own freedom, she repeatedly risked recapture throughout the 1850s by journeying into slave territory to lead some 300 other fugitives, including her parents, to freedom.
With the outbreak of the Civil War, Tubman volunteered her services as a Union army cook and nurse, then undertook hazardous duty as a spy and guide for Union forces in Maryland and Virginia. Capture would surely have meant death.
Following the war, Tubman operated a home in Auburn, New York, for aged and indigent African-Americans. She ran the facility until her death on March 10, 1913, when she was buried with full military honors.