Harriet Tubman's Boston: August, 1859

The following article is part of a series exploring Harriet Tubman's deep connections to Boston, highlighting several key moments, people, and places that illustrate her long relationship with the city and its community. To learn more, visit Harriet Tubman's Boston.

Black and white sketch of Tremont Temple.
Tremont Temple served as a gathering space for meetings, especially for abolitionists and other activists.

The Boston Directory, 1851

"We're rooted here, and they can't pull us up."

Tremont Temple, Tremont Street

In addition to the talks she gave at small gatherings, Tubman also spoke at larger scale events alongside other prominent orators and activists. For example, in August 1859, she addressed the New England Colored Citizens' Convention held at Tremont Temple.

Introduced as "one of the most successful conductors on the Underground Railroad," Tubman assumed the name "Harriet Garrison," possibly to shield her identity. At this meeting, she strongly denounced colonization, the movement to send African Americans out of the United States to Africa. She used a folksy parable to illustrate her point. Tubman told a story of a farmer who first sowed onions and garlic to increase his dairy production but soon found the butter too strong. He tried ridding the land of the unwanted crops but realized the wind had blown them all over the field. Just as the farmer tried unsuccessfully to root out the onion and garlic, the colonizationists "were trying to root 'em out and send 'em to Africa." "But," she declared to much applause, "they can’t do it; we're rooted here, and they can't pull us up."1


1. Liberator, August 26, 1859, 4.

Boston African American National Historic Site

Last updated: February 28, 2022