1995 32¢ Harriet Tubman
Issue Date: June 29, 1995
City: Gettysburg, PA
Quantity: 15,000,000 panes of 20
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
The release of the 20 Civil War stamps marked the most extensive effort in the history of the U.S. Postal Service to review and verify the historical accuracy of stamp subjects. Each of the 16 individuals and four battles featured were chosen from a master list of 50 subjects, which included Presidents, generals, major battles, rank-and-file soldiers, women, African and Native Americans, and abolitionists. The goal of the U.S.P.S. was to show the wide variety of people who participated in the Civil War.
The granddaughter of Africans brought to America in the chain holds of a slave ship, Harriet Tubman was born into slavery on a plantation near Cambridge, Maryland. In 1849 she escaped, and via the underground railroad, went north to Philadelphia. Vowing to help other slaves escape she made nearly 20 trips back to Maryland. Called Moses by her people, after the biblical figure who led the Jews out of Egypt, she became the most famous “conductor” of the underground railroad.
Although no exact number is known, it is estimated that during the 1850s she helped more than 300 slaves escape to freedom. Rewards for her capture once totaled about $40,000. Remarkably, she was never caught and never once during any of her rescue trips did anyone get left behind.
Serving as a nurse, scout, and spy for the Union Army, Tubman helped free more than 750 slaves during one military campaign. After the war she returned to Auburn, New York, where she helped raise money for black schools. In 1908 she established the Harriet Tubman Home for elderly and needy blacks. A postage stamp was issued in her honor in 1978 as part of the Black Heritage Series.