Did you know of Harriet Tubman's involvement with the AME?

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One of my heroines is Harriet Tubman. I knew she was AME Zion but I did not know the tremendous role the AME church played in the underground rail road and that Harriet Tubman worked with the AME church on the underground railroad. Here is a portion of an article I was reading.

(By Rochelle Bush)

Harriet Tubman was born a slave in Bucktown, Maryland around 1820. In 1849, she escaped bondage to become the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad (UGRR). Neither underground nor a railroad, it was an informal system known for its swift and secret way in which the fugitive slaves escaped.

When Harriet escaped from bondage, she first settled in Philadelphia. Here she assisted the famous UGRR stationmaster, William Still at the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. After the passing of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law Act, Harriet moved her anti-slavery activities further North, to the Promised Land - Canada. She chose the town of St. Catharines in Canada West, as her new location.

From this new location, Harriet made at least 11 trips back into the Southern United States to guide hundreds of Freedom Seekers to St.Catharines. She was very successful in her mission and never lost a passenger. Working with black freemen, abolitionists and trusted slaves, Harriet traveled by night, arranging to meet in swamps and forests with small groups of fugitive slaves whom she guided by the North Star.

Harriet made Rochester, NY a key stop over on her trips before journeying onto Canada. In Rochester, her passengers received help from the Great Black Emancipator, Frederick Douglass and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church.

St. Catharines was a very important part of the UGRR movement. It was the chief terminal of Harriet's activities in Canada. Harriet herself lived in this city from 1851 - 1858. When she arrived in 1851 with eleven Freedom Seekers, she meet Reverend Hiram Wilson at the AME Church, which became her place of worship. For the next seven years, Harriet would continue to bring all slaves who dared to escape to St. Catharines.

In 1852 the Refugee Slaves' Friends Society was formed in St. Catharines with Harriet as one of its leading members. Socializing with very prominent people such as the town's mayor, Harriet would discuss the advancement ofher people. In doing such, she immediately became an indispensable asset to the local Black community. Harriet's good friend, Frederick Douglass paid her a visit this same year to discuss the living conditions of their people.

When Harriet arrived in St. Catharines, the church was known as "Bethel Chapel" AME. It was a small log building constructed by African-American Freedom Seekers. In 1853 it was decided that a larger church was needed to assist the growing Methodist congregation that arrived via the UGRR. The larger church was completed in 1855.

In 1854 Harriet successfully rescued six Freedom Seekers and brought them to St. Catharines. Three of the six were her brothers who joined the AME Church. The following year it was decided that the AME Churches in Canada would change their name to establish their own distinct identity. At the Canadian General Conference in 1856, some of the AME Churches changed their name to the British Methodist Episcopal (BME) Church. The British Crown of England granted the permission for the free Black citizens to use the word British in their title. The AME Church in St. Catharines became known as Salem Chapel.

-- Anonymous, April 23, 2003


This note provides additional rationale for why the AMEC & AMEZC should unite as one body. I fear that failure for the AMEC, AMEZ & CMEC to unite under one structure will prevent black Methodists from achieving her creative potential. QED

-- Anonymous, April 23, 2003

The AME Church has a rich history within Canada. The BME Church recognizes its roots from the AME Church. The Canadian Conference is prime for expansion and full of potential.

-- Anonymous, April 23, 2003

Dear Rev.Denise Thank You so very much a the most enlightening information on our history. I agree with Professor QED this does shed light on the value of us coming together and working as one body.

God Bless You

-- Anonymous, April 24, 2003

Thank you Rev. Rogers for this historical anecdote,

I have always admired Harriet Tubman, I consider her to be the quintessential black woman. Her beauty is in her courage, conviction, and determination against all odds. She reminds me of a lot of women in my family. I have always been amazed at the determination of our ancestors. It's been amazing to me that Harriet Tubman was able to walk with other slaves more than 2000 miles to deliver them to freedom.

I heard that sometimes some of the slaves wanted to turn back and she would then take out her colt 45 revolver and point it at them and say " You are going to be dead or you are going to be free". I would imagaine that that slave then became inspired to press on after this type of encounter with Harriet Tubman. Although, historians say she never lost anyone on the Underground Railroad, from what I know about human nature, I would imagine that sister Harriet had to use that revolver at least once.


-- Anonymous, April 24, 2003

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