FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 13, 2009
SCHUMER, CLINTON INTRODUCE BILL TO CREATE HARRIET TUBMAN NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK IN AUBURN TO PRESERVE AND PROMOTE LOCAL HISTORICAL RESOURCES
In Big Increase from Previous Bill, Legislation Would Bring $11 Million To Auburn Area For Preservation Of Sites Such As Harriet Tubman Home, Tubman Home For The Aged Among Others
National Parks Service Study Supports Schumer, Clinton Legislation And Brings Region One Step Closer To Creating National Park
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton today joined in re-introducing legislation to create a National Historical Park preserving and promoting the life of Harriet Ross Tubman, the most famous “conductor” of the anti-slavery resistance network known as the Underground Railroad. The Harriet Tubman National Historical Park and The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park Act will establish two parks, one in New York and one in Maryland. The National Historic Park in New York will be located in Auburn and will focus on her later years where she was active in the suffrage movement and where she established one of the first incorporated homes for aged African Americans. The National Historic Park in Maryland will trace her life on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where she was one of the leaders on the Underground Railroad. In an endorsement of Schumer and Clinton’s legislation, the National Parks Service (NPS) released the results of a multi-year study last November confirming that Auburn, New York is a suitable location for a national park to preserve and promote the life of Harriet Ross Tubman (http://clinton.senate.gov/news/statements/details.cfm?id=305114&&).
“This legislation will make the Harriet Tubman house in Auburn a must-see place for all those interested in American History and greatly enhance our regional tourism industry. Auburn is steeped in the history of one of our Nation's greatest liberators, Harriet Tubman. For a long time, it’s been up to a dedicated few to preserve her memory and keep the communities history of tolerance and service alive. Now, this legislation will provide great help in those efforts by bringing both federal money and expertise to the rich and varied Harriet Tubman sites in the region," said Senator Schumer.
“Harriet Tubman exemplified strength and courage in the face of overwhelming odds, and gave hope to those who had lived a life of oppression,” said Senator Clinton. “This bill gives us the opportunity to pay tribute to Harriet Tubman’s commitment to expanding the American ideals of equality and freedom, and reflect on the progress that could not have been made without her sacrifices. By memorializing her life here in New York we are preserving an important piece of our national history and ensuring that her legacy will serve to educate future generations for years to come.”
In New York, the bill authorizes $ 11 million in grants for the preservation, rehabilitation, and restoration of the properties. Schumer and Clinton worked to increase the funding in the bill from $7.5 million in the last congress. The allocation of these monies will be determined by a locally driven planning process after the passage of the bill. The Harriet Tubman National Historical Park would include important historical structures in Auburn, New York. They include Tubman’s home, the Home for the Aged that she established, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church, and the Fort Hill Cemetery where she is buried. The legislation will also help boost tourism in the region by providing funds for the development and construction of interpretive historical materials. Thematically linking several historical sites will help visitors better understand Harriet Tubman's important contribution to Central New York and the United States as a whole.
Harriett Tubman has a deep history in both Maryland and New York. Harriet Tubman was born in Dorchester County, Maryland, where she spent nearly 30 years as a slave. She escaped slavery in 1849, but returned for more than 10 years to Dorchester and Caroline counties where she led hundreds of African Americans to freedom. In 1857, Harriet relocated her parents from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada to Auburn, NY. Soon after, she purchased land in Auburn and spent the rest of her life there. In 1913, she was buried in Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, NY.
A study released by the NPS in November 2008, which calls for several measures that are already contained in Senators Schumer and Clinton’s legislation, is the culmination of a multi-year study of how to best preserve and promote the substantively rich, but geographically varied sites that make up Harriet Tubman's legacy. This resource study, authorized by law in 2000, establishes a road-map for the NPS to provide direct funding, matching grants and operational support for a new multi-state National Park. In the study, the NPS considered three different plans for preserving Harriet Tubman's legacy and concluded that the NPS should providing direct funding and staffing, while retaining a large measure of local input and control. Known as alternative "C", the NPS concluded that it was the most "effective and efficient" way to proceed.