The life of Harriet Tubman

Contributed by:
This booklet describes Harriet Tubman who led a group of eleven people out of slavery in 1851 and the fugitives traveled by night, slept by day, always on the alert. The risk of capture was always on their mind.
1. from
by Ann Petry
How much should
a person sacrifice
for freedom?
How important is a person’s individual
freedom to a healthy society? Discuss with
a partner how individual freedom shapes
American society.
Harriet Tubman (c. 1945)
by William H. Johnson.
Oil on paperboard, sheet. 29 ⁄" x 23 ⁄"
(73.5 cm x 59.3 cm).
496 Unit 2 • Collection 5
2. SKILLS FOCUS Literary Skills Understand characteristics
Reader/Writer of biography; understand coherence. Reading Skills
Identify the main idea; identify supporting sentences.
Use your RWN to complete the activities
for this selection.
Biography and Coherence A biography is the story of fugitives (FYOO juh tihvz) n.: people fleeing
someone’s life written by another person. We “meet” the people in from danger or oppression. Traveling by
a biography the same way we get to know people in our own lives. night, the fugitives escaped to the North.
We observe their actions and motivations, learn their values, and incomprehensible (ihn kahm prih HEHN
see how they interact with others. Soon, we feel we know them. suh buhl) adj.: impossible to understand.
A good biography has coherence—all the details come The code that Harriet Tubman used was
together in a way that makes the biography easy to understand. incomprehensible to slave owners.
In nonfiction a text is coherent if the important details support the incentive (ihn SEHN tihv) n.: reason to do
main idea and connect to one another in a clear order. something; motivation. The incentive of
a warm house and good food kept the
Literary Perspectives Apply the literary perspective described fugitives going.
on page 499 as you read this selection.
dispel (dihs PEHL) v.: get rid of by driving
away. Harriet tried to dispel the travelers’
fear of capture.
eloquence (EHL uh kwehns) n.: ability to
write or speak gracefully and convinc-
Finding the Main Idea The main idea is the central idea or ingly. Frederick Douglass was known for
message of a nonfiction text. To find the main idea, look for key his eloquence in writing and speaking.
statements made by the writer and for details that point to an
important idea. Then, think about the meaning of all the details.
Into Action As you read the biography, write down details that
seem important. When you have finished, write the main idea.
Roots The Latin root loqui means “to
Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad speak.” What word in the Vocabulary list
Important detail: “It was the largest group that she had above comes from this root? How is its
ever conducted.” meaning the same or different from that
of the Latin root?
Important detail:
Think as a Reader/Writer
Find It in Your Reading In this biography, Ann Petry turns
historical facts into a dramatic story. As you read, record in your Learn It Online
Get a sneak peek of this story with a video
Reader/Writer Notebook objective, or factual, passages and sub- introduction at:
jective passages, which reveal the writer’s feelings and opinions. L8-497 Go
Preparing to Read 497
3. Learn It Online
Get more on the author’s life at:
MEET THE WRITER Build Background L8-498 Go
In the Biblical Book of Exodus, Moses
Ann Petry is chosen by God to lead the people of
Israel out of slavery in Egypt. Moses
(1908–1997) takes his people on a long, perilous
desert journey and leads them to the
“A Message in the Story” Promised Land. As you read this biog-
A native of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, Ann Petry was the raphy, look for reasons why Harriet
granddaughter of a man who escaped from slavery on a Tubman was called the Moses of her
Virginia plantation and went north by way of the Underground people.
Railroad. She earned a Ph.D. in 1931 and worked as a pharma-
cist in her family’s drugstore before moving to New York, where
Preview the Selection
she became a writer of books for young people and adults.
This excerpt from a biography relates
About her writing she said:
how Harriet Tubman led a group of
“My writing has, of course, been influenced by the eleven people out of slavery in 1851. The
books I’ve read but it has been much more influenced fugitives traveled by night and slept by
by the circumstances of my birth and my growing up, day, always on the alert. The risk of cap-
by my family. . . . ture was constantly on their minds.
“We always had relatives visiting us. They added
excitement to our lives. They brought with them the
aura and the customs of a very different world. They
were all storytellers, spinners of yarns. So were my
mother and my father.
“Some of these stories had been handed down from
one generation to the next, improved, embellished,
embroidered. Usually there was a message in the
story, a message for the young, a message
that would help a young black child
survive, help convince a young
black child that black is truly
Petry grew up listening
to stories. How might
this have shaped the
way she wrote?
4. Read with a Purpose Read to discover how Harriet Tubman led
enslaved people to freedom.
by Ann Petry
THE RAILROAD RUNS TO CANADA in the woods, close by, late at night. Though
A long the Eastern Shore of Maryland, it was the wrong season for whippoorwills.
in Dorchester County, in Caroline Sometimes the masters thought they had
County, the masters kept hearing heard the cry of a hoot owl, repeated, and
whispers about the man named Moses, who would remember having thought that the
was running off slaves. At first they did not intervals between the low moaning cry were
believe in his existence. The stories about wrong, that it had been repeated four times
him were fantastic, unbelievable. Yet they in succession instead of three. There was
watched for him. They offered rewards for never anything more than that to suggest
his capture.
They never saw him. Now and then they
heard whispered rumors to the effect that
he was in the neighborhood. The woods
were searched. The roads were watched.
There was never anything to indicate his Use this perspective to help you explore historical context.
whereabouts. But a few days afterward, Analyzing Historical Context When applying this per-
a goodly number of slaves would be gone spective, you view a literary text within its historical context.
from the plantation. Neither the master nor Specifically, you notice historical information about the time
the overseer had heard or seen anything in which the author wrote, about the time in which the text is
set, and about the ways in which people of the period saw and
unusual in the quarter.1 Sometimes one
thought about the world in which they lived. History, in this
or the other would vaguely remember hav- biography, refers to the social, political, economic and cultural
ing heard a whippoorwill call somewhere climate of the American South in the time period before the
Civil War, when many African Americans were enslaved. As you
1. quarter: area in a plantation where enslaved blacks read, use the notes and questions in the text to guide you in
lived. It consisted of windowless, one-room cabins using this perspective.
made of logs and mud.
Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad 499
5. that all was not well in the quarter. Yet, when In December 1851, when she started out
morning came, they invariably discovered with the band of fugitives that she planned
that a group of the finest slaves had taken to take to Canada, she had been in the
to their heels. A vicinity of the plantation for days, planning
Unfortunately, the discovery was almost the trip, carefully selecting the slaves that
always made on a Sunday. Thus a whole day she would take with her.
was lost before the machinery of pursuit She had announced her arrival in the
could be set in motion. The posters offering quarter by singing the forbidden spiritual2—
rewards for the fugitives could not be “Go down, Moses, ’way down to Egypt
printed until Monday. The men who made Land”—singing it softly outside the door of
a living hunting for runaway slaves were out a slave cabin, late at night. The husky voice
of reach, off in the woods with their dogs was beautiful even when it was barely more
and their guns, in pursuit of four-footed than a murmur borne on the wind. B
game, or they were in camp meetings saying Once she had made her presence known,
their prayers with their wives and families word of her coming spread from cabin to
beside them. cabin. The slaves whispered to each other,
Harriet Tubman could have told them ear to mouth, mouth to ear, “Moses is here.”
that there was far more involved in this “Moses has come.” “Get ready. Moses
matter of running off slaves than signaling is back again.” The ones who had agreed to
the would-be runaways by imitating the call go North with her put ashcake3 and salt her-
of a whippoorwill, or a hoot owl, far more ring in an old bandanna, hastily tied it into
involved than a matter of waiting for a clear a bundle, and then waited patiently for the
night when the North Star was visible. signal that meant it was time to start.
There were eleven in this party, including
one of her brothers and his wife. It was the
largest group that she had ever conducted,
2. forbidden spiritual: Spirituals are religious songs,
some of which are based on the biblical story of the
Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt. Plantation
owners feared that the singing of certain spirituals
might lead to rebellion.
3. ashcake: cornmeal bread baked in hot ashes.
A Read and Discuss How has the author gotten us interested?
B Literary Focus Biography Do you think the details
about Tubman’s voice are factual? Explain.
Vocabulary fugitives (FYOO juh tihvz) n.: people fleeing
from danger or oppression.
6. but she was determined that more and
more slaves should know what freedom
was like.
She had to take them all the way to
Canada. The Fugitive Slave Law4 was no
longer a great many incomprehensible
words written down on the country’s 00_Sidebar green
runin 00_Sidebar Text
law books. The new law had become
w/green runin
a reality. It was Thomas Sims, a boy,
picked up on the streets of Boston at
night and shipped back to Georgia.
It was Jerry and Shadrach, arrested and
jailed with no warning. C
She had never been in Canada.
The route beyond Philadelphia was
strange to her. But she could not let the
runaways who accompanied her know
this. As they walked along, she told
them stories of her own first flight; she
kept painting vivid word pictures of
what it would be like to be free.
But there were so many of them
this time. She knew moments of
doubt, when she was half afraid and
kept looking back over her shoulder,
imagining that she heard the sound
of pursuit. They would certainly be
pursued. Eleven of them. Eleven
thousand dollars’ worth of flesh and
4. Fugitive Slave Law: harsh federal law passed
in 1850 stating that fugitives who escaped from
slavery to free states could be forced to return
to their owners. As a result, those who escaped
were safe only in Canada. The law also made Harriet Tubman.
it a crime for a free person to help fugitives
or to prevent their return.
C Literary Perspectives Historical Context What do Vocabulary incomprehensible (ihn kahm prih HEHN
the names of captured fugitives add to the biography’s impact? suh buhl) adj.: impossible to understand.
Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad 501
7. bone and muscle that belonged to Maryland She turned away from the house, frown-
planters. If they were caught, the eleven ing. She had promised her passengers food
runaways would be whipped and sold and rest and warmth, and instead of that,
South, but she—she would probably be there would be hunger and cold and more
hanged. D walking over the frozen ground. Somehow
They tried to sleep during the day but she would have to instill courage into these
they never could wholly relax into sleep. She eleven people, most of them strangers,
could tell by the positions they assumed, by would have to feed them on hope and bright
their restless movements. And they walked dreams of freedom instead of the fried
at night. Their progress was slow. It took pork and corn bread and milk she had
them three nights of walking to reach the promised them.
first stop. She had told them about the place They stumbled along behind her, half
where they would stay, promising warmth dead for sleep, and she urged them on,
and good food, holding these things out to though she was as tired and as discouraged
them as an incentive to keep going. as they were. She had never been in
When she knocked on the door of Canada, but she kept painting wondrous
a farmhouse, a place where she and her word pictures of what it would be like.
parties of runaways had always been wel- She managed to dispel their fear of pursuit
come, always been given shelter and plenty so that they would not become hysterical,
to eat, there was no answer. She knocked panic-stricken. Then she had to bring
again, softly. A voice from within said, some of the fear back, so that they would
“Who is it?” There was fear in the voice. stay awake and keep walking though they
She knew instantly from the sound of drooped with sleep.
the voice that there was something wrong. Yet, during the day, when they lay down
She said, “A friend with friends,” the pass- deep in a thicket, they never really slept,
word on the Underground Railroad. because if a twig snapped or the wind sighed
The door opened, slowly. The man who in the branches of a pine tree, they jumped
stood in the doorway looked at her coldly, to their feet, afraid of their own shadows,
looked with unconcealed astonishment and shivering and shaking. It was very cold, but
fear at the eleven disheveled runaways who they dared not make fires because someone
were standing near her. Then he shouted, would see the smoke and wonder about it.
“Too many, too many. It’s not safe. My place She kept thinking, eleven of them. Eleven
was searched last week. It’s not safe!” and thousand dollars’ worth of slaves. And she
slammed the door in her face. E had to take them all the way to Canada.
D Reading Focus Finding the Main Idea What impor- Vocabulary incentive (ihn SEHN tihv) n.: reason to do
tant detail do you learn in this paragraph? something; motivation.
E Read and Discuss What is happening with Harriet Tubman dispel (dihs PEHL) v.: get rid of by driving away.
and her group?
502 Unit 2 • Collection 5
8. Sometimes she told them about Thomas but he had never used his strength to harm
Garrett, in Wilmington.5 She said he was anyone, always to help people. He would give
their friend even though he did not know all of them a new pair of shoes. Everybody.
them. He was the friend of all fugitives. He He always did. Once they reached his house
called them God’s poor. He was a Quaker6 in Wilmington, they would be safe. He would
and his speech was a little different from that see to it that they were.
of other people. His clothing was different, She described the house where he
too. He wore the wide-brimmed hat that the lived, told them about the store where he
Quakers wear. sold shoes. She said he kept a pail of milk
She said that he had thick white hair, soft, and a loaf of bread in the drawer of his
almost like a baby’s, and the kindest eyes she desk so that he would have food ready at
had ever seen. He was a big man and strong, hand for any of God’s poor who should
suddenly appear before him, fainting
5. Wilmington: city in Delaware.
with hunger. There was a hidden room in
6. Quaker: member of the Society of Friends, a reli- the store. A whole wall swung open, and
gious group active in the movement to end slavery. behind it was a room where he could hide
Harriet Tubman (at left) with a group she helped escape from slavery.
Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad 503
9. fugitives. On the wall there were shelves They spent the night in the warm
filled with small boxes—boxes of shoes— kitchen. They really slept, all that night and
so that you would never guess that the wall until dusk the next day. When they left,
actually opened. F it was with reluctance. They had all been
While she talked, she kept watching warm and safe and well-fed. It was hard to
them. They did not believe her. She could exchange the security offered by that clean,
tell by their expressions. They were think- warm kitchen for the darkness and the cold
ing. New shoes, Thomas Garrett, Quaker, of a December night. G
Wilmington—what foolishness was this?
Who knew if she told the truth? Where was “GO ON OR DIE”
she taking them anyway? Harriet had found it hard to leave the
That night they reached the next stop— warmth and friendliness, too. But she
a farm that belonged to a German. She made urged them on. For a while, as they walked,
the runaways take shelter behind trees at the they seemed to carry in them a measure
edge of the fields before she knocked at the of contentment; some of the serenity and
door. She hesitated before she approached the cleanliness of that big, warm kitchen
the door, thinking, suppose that he too lingered on inside them. But as they walked
should refuse shelter, suppose—Then she farther and farther away from the warmth
thought, Lord, I’m going to hold steady on to and the light, the cold and the darkness
You and You’ve got to see me through—and entered into them. They fell silent, sullen,
knocked softly. suspicious. She waited for the moment
She heard the familiar guttural voice say, when some one of them would turn muti-
“Who’s there?” nous. It did not happen that night.
She answered quickly, “A friend with Two nights later, she was aware that the
friends.” feet behind her were moving slower and
He opened the door and greeted her slower. She heard the irritability in their
warmly. “How many this time?” he asked. voices, knew that soon someone would
“Eleven,” she said and waited, doubting, refuse to go on.
wondering. She started talking about William Still
He said, “Good. Bring them in.” and the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee.7
He and his wife fed them in the lamp-lit No one commented. No one asked any ques-
kitchen, their faces glowing as they offered tions. She told them the story of William
food and more food, urging them to eat, say-
7. Philadelphia Vigilance Committee: group that offered
ing there was plenty for everybody, have more help to people escaping slavery. William Still, a free
milk, have more bread, have more meat. African American, was chairman of the committee.
F Read and Discuss How does Harriet keep her group going G Reading Focus Finding the Main Idea What have
even when they are exhausted and afraid? you learned about the families who helped the travelers?
504 Unit 2 • Collection 5
10. and Ellen Craft and how they escaped
from Georgia. Ellen was so fair that
she looked as though she were white,
and so she dressed up in a man’s
clothing and she looked like a wealthy
young planter. Her husband, William,
who was dark, played the role of her
slave. Thus they traveled from Macon,
Georgia, to Philadelphia, riding on
the trains, staying at the finest hotels.
Ellen pretended to be very ill—her
right arm was in a sling and her right
hand was bandaged because she was
supposed to have rheumatism.8 Thus
she avoided having to sign the reg-
ister at the hotels, for she could not
read or write. They finally arrived
safely in Philadelphia and then went
on to Boston. H
No one said anything. Not one of
them seemed to have heard her.
She told them about Frederick
Douglass, the most famous of the Analyzing Visuals Viewing and Interpreting What details
escaped slaves, of his eloquence, of in this picture of Ellen Craft hide her real identity?
his magnificent appearance. Then she
told them of her own first, vain effort at
running away, evoking the memory of that “Let me go back. It is better to be a slave than
miserable life she had led as a child, reliving to suffer like this in order to be free.”
it for a moment in the telling. She carried a gun with her on these
But they had been tired too long, hungry trips. She had never used it—except as a
too long, afraid too long, footsore too long. threat. Now, as she aimed it, she experi-
One of them suddenly cried out in despair, enced a feeling of guilt, remembering that
time, years ago, when she had prayed for the
8. rheumatism (ROO muh tihz uhm): painful swelling death of Edward Brodas, the Master, and
and stiffness of the joints or muscles. then, not too long afterward, had heard that
H Literary Focus Coherence In what way do the stories Vocabulary eloquence (EHL uh kwehns) n.: ability to
Tubman tells the fugitives help create a coherent biography? write or speak gracefully and convincingly.
Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad 505
11. Analyzing Visuals Viewing and Interpreting How might this scene of Group going to the fields at the James
a plantation be like or unlike the plantation from which Hopkinson’s plantation, c. 1862.
Harriet Tubman and the fugitives have escaped? Photographer: Henry P. Moore.
great wailing cry that came from the throats none of them could go back to the planta-
of the field hands, and knew from the sound tion. If a runaway returned, he would turn
that the Master was dead. traitor; the master and the overseer would
One of the runaways said again, “Let force him to turn traitor. The returned slave
me go back. Let me go back,” and stood still, would disclose the stopping places, the
and then turned around and said, over his hiding places, the corn stacks they had used
shoulder, “I am going back.” with the full knowledge of the owner of
She lifted the gun, aimed it at the the farm, the name of the German farmer
despairing slave. She said, “Go on with who had fed them and sheltered them.
us or die.” The husky, low-pitched voice These people who had risked their own
was grim. I security to help runaways would be ruined,
He hesitated for a moment and then fined, imprisoned.
he joined the others. They started walk- She said, “We got to go free or die. And
ing again. She tried to explain to them why freedom’s not bought with dust.”
I Read and Discuss What is going on between Harriet
Tubman and the fugitives?
506 Unit 2 • Collection 5
12. This time she told knew that for the moment all was well
them about the long with them.
agony of the Middle She gave the impression of being a short,
Passage9 on the old slave muscular, indomitable woman who could
ships, about the black never be defeated. Yet at any moment she
horror of the holds, was liable to be seized by one of those curi-
about the chains and the ous fits of sleep,10 which might last for a few
whips. They too knew minutes or for hours. J
these stories. But she Even on this trip, she suddenly fell
wanted to remind them asleep in the woods. The runaways, ragged,
of the long, hard way dirty, hungry, cold, did not steal the gun
they had come, about the as they might have and set off by themselves
long, hard way they had or turn back. They sat on the ground near
yet to go. She told them her and waited patiently until she awak-
about Thomas Sims, the ened. They had come to trust her implicitly,
boy picked up on the totally. They, too, had come to believe her
streets of Boston and repeated statement, “We got to go free or
sent back to Georgia. She die.” She was leading them into freedom,
said when they got him back to Savannah, and so they waited until she was ready
got him in prison there, they whipped him to go on. K
until a doctor who was standing by watch- Finally, they reached Thomas Garrett’s
ing said, “You will kill him if you strike him house in Wilmington, Delaware. Just as
again!” His master said, “Let him die!” Harriet had promised, Garrett gave them all
Thus she forced them to go on. new shoes, and provided carriages to take
Sometimes she thought she had become them on to the next stop.
nothing but a voice speaking in the By slow stages they reached Philadelphia,
darkness, cajoling, urging, threatening. where William Still hastily recorded their
Sometimes she told them things to make names, and the plantations whence they had
them laugh; sometimes she sang to them come, and something of the life they had
and heard the eleven voices behind her led in slavery. Then he carefully hid what he
blending softly with hers, and then she had written, for fear it might be discovered.
9. Middle Passage: route traveled by ships carrying 10. fits of sleep: Harriet’s losses of consciousness were
captured Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to the caused by a serious head injury that she had suffered
Americas. The captives endured the horrors of the as a teenager. Harriet had tried to protect someone
Middle Passage crammed into holds, airless cargo else from punishment, and an enraged overseer
areas below deck. threw a two-pound weight at her head.
J Literary Focus Biography What factual information K Read and Discuss What does this new detail about the gun
about Harriet Tubman does this passage reveal? reveal?
Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad 507
13. In 1872 he published this record in book Harriet and Jarm Loguen were to become
form and called it The Underground friends and supporters of Old John Brown.12
Railroad. In the foreword to his book he From Syracuse they went north again,
said: “While I knew the danger of keeping into a colder, snowier city—Rochester. Here
strict records, and while I did not then they almost certainly stayed with Frederick
dream that in my day slavery would be Douglass, for he wrote in his autobiography:
blotted out, or that the time would come “On one occasion I had eleven fugitives
when I could publish these records, it used at the same time under my roof, and it
to afford me great satisfaction to take was necessary for them to remain with me
them down, fresh from the until I could collect suffi-
lips of fugitives on the way cient money to get them to
to freedom, and to preserve Canada. It was the largest
them as they had given number I ever had at any
them.” L “We got one time, and I had some
William Still, who was difficulty in providing
familiar with all the station so many with food and
stops on the Underground
to go free shelter, but, as may well be
Railroad, supplied Harriet imagined, they were not
with money and sent her or die.” very fastidious in either
and her eleven fugitives on direction, and were well
to Burlington, New Jersey. content with very plain food,
Harriet felt safer now, and a strip of carpet on the
though there were danger floor for a bed, or a place on
spots ahead. But the biggest part of her job the straw in the barn loft.”
was over. As they went farther and farther Late in December 1851, Harriet arrived
north, it grew colder; she was aware of the in St. Catharines, Canada West (now
wind on the Jersey ferry and aware of the Ontario), with the eleven fugitives. It had
cold damp in New York. From New York taken almost a month to complete this
they went on to Syracuse,11 where the tem- journey. M
perature was even lower.
In Syracuse she met the Reverend J. W. 12. John Brown (1800–1859): abolitionist (opponent
of slavery) who was active in the Underground
Loguen, known as “Jarm” Loguen. This was Railroad. In 1859, Brown led a raid on the federal
the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Both arsenal at Harpers Ferry, then in Virginia, in hopes
of inspiring a slave uprising. Federal troops over-
powered Brown and his followers, and Brown was
11. Syracuse: city in central New York State. convicted of treason and hanged.
L Literary Focus Biography How might William Still’s M Literary Perspectives Historical Context Does the
records have been helpful in the creation of this biography? journey’s one-month duration surprise you? Why or why not?
508 Unit 2 • Collection 5
14. SKILLS FOCUS Literary Skills Analyze a biography;
evaluate the coherence of a text. Reading Skills Identify
the main idea.
from Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the
Underground Railroad
Respond and Think Critically
5. Analyze You sense irony when something
happens that is the opposite of what you
expect. What is ironic about the fugitive hunt-
Quick Check ers praying with their families on Sundays?
1. List at least three facts you learned about the 6. Literary Perspectives What aspects of life in
Underground Railroad. List at least five facts the 1860s made the fugitives’ journey easier
you learned about Harriet Tubman. than it would be in modern times? What
aspects made their journey more difficult?
Read with a Purpose
2. What strategies did Harriet Tubman use to get Literary Skills: Biography and
all eleven slaves safely to Canada? Coherence
7. Analyze Petry creates a coherent text by
Reading Skills: Finding the Main Idea tracking the physical journey that Tubman
3. Review your chart of the story’s details. What took. What other methods does Petry use to
main idea is supported by these details? Write make Tubman’s journey easy to follow?
down this main idea in a new row at the
bottom of the chart. Literary Skills Review: Character
8. Compare and Contrast What is the dif-
Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the ference between a leader and a hero? Was
Underground Railroad
Tubman a leader, a hero, or both? Explain.
Important detail: “It was the largest
group that she had
ever conducted.”
Important detail:
Main idea: Think as a Reader/Writer
Use It in Your Writing Review your notes of
objective and subjective passages in the selec-
tion. Now, describe a historical figure you admire,
including factual details and your feelings about
that person.
Literary Analysis
4. Interpret How is Tubman like Moses in the
Bible? What is her Promised Land? Has reading this biography changed
your mind about the value of
freedom? Why or why not?
Applying Your Skills 509
15. from Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the
Underground Railroad
Classical Greek is also a source for many
Vocabulary Development English affixes—word parts added to a root to
Vocabulary Check alter its meaning. Here are some common Greek
affixes and their meanings:
Answer the following questions. Vocabulary
words are in boldface. Greek Affix Meaning English Word
1. What are some reasons a person might anti– opposing antiwar
become a fugitive? –ician specialist in technician
2. Is it easy to understand something that is hyper– over; excessive hyperactive
3. What incentive did Harriet Tubman have to
lead the slaves to freedom? Your Turn
4. How did Tubman dispel the fears of the Knowing the meanings of roots and affixes can
fugitives? help you define new words. Use the roots and
5. How did Frederick Douglass’s eloquence affixes from the charts to answer these questions:
inspire Tubman and the fugitives? 1. Does a person who is antisocial like being
around people?
Greek Roots and Affixes 2. If something is a biohazard, would you want
to be near it? Why or why not?
The ancient Greek language helped shape many
3. How might a hypercritical person act?
languages, including English. The Greek alphabet
is the source of many of the letters we use today, 4. When might you need an electrician?
and our practice of reading from left to right 5. How many sides does an octagon have?
came from the Greek language. 6. What kind of science is demography?
One way Greek words entered the English
language was through the Christian Church.
English words like monk, church, and prophet
have Greek origins. Another way was through the Roots Sort the words on autobiography
revival of interest in classical Greek texts during the right into groups octave
the Renaissance, beginning in the 1300s. Here are according to their roots, democracy
some Greek roots and their English derivatives. and write them in a chart octet
like the one below. See biosphere
Greek Root Meaning English Word if you can think of more demographics
–oct– eight octagon words that share these October
–bio– life biography roots. biochemistry
–dem– people democracy Greek Root octogenarian
–oct– –bio– –dem–
510 Unit 2 • Collection 5
16. SKILLS FOCUS Literary Skills Analyze a biography;
evaluate the coherence of a text. Reading Skills Identify
the main idea. Vocabulary Skills Demonstrate knowledge
of literal meanings of words and their usage; identify and
use Greek roots and affixes to understand vocabulary; use
academic vocabulary appropriately. Grammar Skills
Demonstrate understanding of correct subject-verb
Grammar Link CHOICES
Subject-Verb Agreement As you respond to the Choices, use these Academic Vocabulary
In a sentence the verb should always agree in words as appropriate: observation, emphasize, reactions, define.
number with the subject. If the subject is singular, REVIEW
the verb should be singular. If the subject is plural, Make a Time Line
the verb should be plural. In order to follow the sequence of events in
Singular Verbs Plural Verbs the selection, draw a time line. Start with a
straight line. At the left, write “Tubman leaves
comes, helps, does, is come, help, do, are
with eleven fugitives, December 1851.” Refer to
the text to fill in the time line with other events.
EXAMPLES: He rides the bicycle. [The singular verb
Your time line may not be exact, but it should
rides agrees with the singular subject He.] emphasize the most important events in the
Most children love ice cream. [The plural verb biography and make the sequence of events
love agrees with the plural subject children.] clear.
Your Turn Summarize a Biography
Choose the form of the verb in parentheses that Re-read the excerpt from the
agrees with the subject in the sentence. biography of Harriet Tubman. Then, write a sum-
EXAMPLE: The thought of bats (scare, scares) me. mary of the biography. In the first paragraph,
[The singular verb scares agrees with the singular include the title of the work, the author’s name,
subject thought.] and a general observation about the work. In
the second paragraph, summarize the important
1. Many years (has, have) passed.
events covered in the biography.
2. The teachers rarely (gives, give) high marks.
3. Most airlines (doesn’t, don’t) serve meals. EXTEND
4. Why (is, are) these questions so hard? Map an Escape
5. One of my teeth (hurts, hurt) a lot. Group Project The fugitives discussed in this
6. We (doesn’t, don’t) want to go to the lake. biography had an advantage over many others
fleeing slavery: They were escaping from the
northernmost slave state, Maryland. Work with
Writing Applications Write a short paragraph
a group to find out which states allowed slavery
using the following words as subjects: Harriet
in 1851. Then, choose a location in one of those
Tubman, fugitives, and group. Then, check each
states and draw a map showing a possible route
sentence to be sure your verbs all agree in number
to freedom. Research the Underground Railroad
with your subjects.
to see if there were any stops along your route.
Applying Your Skills 511