Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 391
Being a work of non-fiction, the characters in Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom are actual people. Since the biography follows Tubman's life as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, a secret endeavor to assist runaway slaves in reaching freedom, there are many people involved in her story who remain unknown. However, author Catherine Clinton does include many real-life people in her book.
Most importantly, Harriet Tubman, the title figure, is central to the biography. Clinton describes her youth on a Maryland plantation and her decision to run away and later return time and time again to help ferry others to freedom. She was often referred to as Moses for her role in leading her people to freedom. Clinton describes Harriet Tubman's role during the Civil War and as a humanitarian throughout the latter half of the 19th Century.
Harriet Green and Benjamin Ross were Tubman's parents. They lost two of their other young daughters when they were sold to another plantation as small children. They were later escorted to freedom by Harriet Tubman on one of her rescue missions.
John Tubman was Harriet's first husband and a free black man. He chose not to run away with Harriet when she left in 1849 and stayed behind in Maryland.
Margaret Stewart was Harriet's adopted daughter that she claimed to be her niece. Clinton mentions that there is a possibility that Margaret was actually Harriet's biological daughter, the result of a rape, but there is no solid evidence for this.
John Brown is famous for his failed raid on the arsenal at Harper's Ferry where he hoped to steal weapons to begin a slave rebellion in 1859. Harriet provided informational support for John Brown.
Charles Nalle was a captured fugitive slave from Virginia who Tubman, along with many others, dramatically rescued from the U.S. Commissioner's office in Troy, New York.
Harriet Tubman had a difficult time accepting the motives of President Abraham Lincoln. She felt that he was not committed enough to the cause of abolition at first, but her attitude toward him softened after he signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
Sarah Bradford was Harriet's friend after the Civil War. She wrote the first biography of her in 1869.
Charles Nelson Davis was Harriet's second husband. He was a former soldier and farmer from North Carolina. Together they adopted a baby daughter named Gertie.