16 of History's Most Rebellious Women

Women Revolutionaries

Harriet Tubman, the U.S.
Explaining her decision to escape from slavery, Harriet Tubman once quoted an earlier American revolutionary by saying, "There was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other." Choosing liberty, Tubman, who was born a slave in 1820, fled Maryland and followed the North Star to the free state of Pennsylvania. A year later, she returned to Maryland to help her family escape, the first of 19 missions she would make to rescue more than 300 slaves on the Underground Railroad. After an 1850 law required free states to return escaped slaves to their owners, Tubman made sure slaves could escape even farther north, to Canada. During the Civil War, she was the first woman to lead a military expedition, liberating more than 700 slaves in South Carolina. Tubman ended her life of activism fighting for women's suffrage in New York. —Zoe Fox

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