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Harriet Tubman’s Last Words Were Biblical

Photo of Harriet Tubman

What were Harriet Tubman‘s last words? She quoted the gospels, it seems:

To the clergyman she said “Give my love to all the churches” and after a severe coughing spell she blurted out in a thick voice this farewell passage which she had learned from Matthew: “I go away to prepare a place for you, and where I am ye may be also.”

So says her 1913 obituary in the Auburn (NY) Citizen.

Did she really say that? Hard to say. It’s true that in those days, newspapers were often willing to print the allegedly grandiose last words of any famous person who died, even if those words were a little too perfect for someone in a near-coma.

But Harriet Tubman was known to be a spiritual woman, and in this case the story seems to be pretty straight. More than one person was present at her deathbed: the Auburn Citizen noted (in the not-colorblind argot of those times) that “Those present when she died included Rev. and Mrs. Smith and Miss Ridgeway, the colored nurse.”

While we’re not too certain about Reverend and Mrs. Smith , we’ll take Miss Ridgeway’s word for it.

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