Reading Comprehension – U.S. History

Name ______________________________________ Date __________________________

The Underground Railroad was not a real railroad. It was a way for slaves to escape to freedom in the North. “Conductors” were the people who helped the runaway slaves. They showed them places to hide and gave them food and clothing. Harriet Tubman was one of the most famous “conductors” on the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman made many trips into the South and helped over 300 slaves get to freedom in the North. She once said that she "never lost a single passenger."

Harriet Tubman was born a slave around 1820 in Maryland. She helped with chores in the house like cooking and cleaning. When she was about 13, she was sent to work in the fields. Men called “overseers” watched the slaves work to make sure they did a good job. One day, an overseer got mad at another slave. He threw a heavy rock at the slave. Harriet got in front of the slave to protect him. She got hit in the head and was very badly hurt. Even though Harriet got hurt, it was important for her to protect and help others. After many years as a slave, Harriet decided to run away. Quietly, she left the farm and ran north. Harriet settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and worked very hard. She saved her money and enjoyed her life as a free woman. But, Harriet missed her family and worried about them. So, she returned to the farm in Maryland and helped her sister escape to freedom. For the first few trips, Harriet helped her nieces, nephews, and brothers escape to freedom. She even made a trip to help her 70-year-old parents reach freedom. Later, Harriet helped other slaves escape to the North.

Harriet Tubman was a very clever conductor. She knew that the masters would be angry if their slaves ran away. Many slave-owners put ads in the newspaper offering a reward if their slaves were caught. But, the ads wouldn’t be in the paper until Monday morning. So, Harriet would...
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