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Schumer, Gillibrand, Maffei Have Campaigned To Honor The Life of American Hero Harriet Tubman By Creating National Historical Park at Her Auburn Home

Schumer, Gillibrand, Maffei: President’s Signature Will Make Richly- Deserved Tubman Recognition A Reality

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Dan Maffei announced that the provision to establish the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn as a National Historical Park, which would also encompass the Tubman Home for the Aged, the Thompson Memorial AME Zion Church and Rectory, has passed both the House and the Senate. Schumer, Gillibrand and Maffei successfully included this provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was unveiled earlier this week. The provision also establishes the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Maryland. Now that the bill has passed both houses in Congress, the request for this recognition will head to the President’s desk for his signature. Schumer, Gillibrand and Maffei are urging the President to promptly and proudly sign this bill and make this long-awaited National Historical Park a reality.

The provision included in the NDAA would establish two National Historical Parks, one in New York and one in Maryland. The National Historical Park in New York would be located in Auburn and commemorates the later years of Harriet Tubman’s life where she was active in the women’s suffrage movement and in providing for the welfare of aged African Americans.  The National Historical Park in Maryland would trace Tubman’s early life on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where she was born and later escaped from slavery to become one of the leaders on the Underground Railroad.

“Harriet Tubman was a true American hero, and this bill will finally allow us to honor and preserve her home in Auburn as a National Historic Park so that future generations may be inspired by her legacy and service. Born a slave, Harriet Tubman threw off her chains to forge a path of freedom for herself. But compelled by her commitment to justice, she returned again and again and again to the South to free countless others, earning the nickname ‘Moses’ for her exploits,” said Senator Schumer. “This site in Auburn will serve as a monument to her bravery and compassion and to the freedom and equality that we cherish as a nation. I am pleased to announce that this long-awaited recognition has passed both the chambers in Congress and is now headed straight for the President’s desk. Harriet Tubman left an indelible mark on America, and this National Park will be a true testament to her life’s work – and all that is best about our country.”

“Harriet Tubman risked her life to rescue others from slavery and oppression, and for that, she is one of American history’s greatest heroes,” saidSenator Gillibrand, who toured Harriet Tubman’s home and the Home for the Aged that she established in the Auburn-Fleming area. “With this new National Historical Park designation, Harriet Tubman’s life and legacy will continue to live on, and her story will continue to inspire so many people for generations to come. She led countless others in the journey for freedom and equality, and I am pleased there will now be a national park in her honor, where people from across the country can reflect on her life and legacy.”   

"After years of hard work to turn this important legislation into a law, I am incredibly proud to announce that the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park will become a reality," said Rep. Dan Maffei, who introduced the Harriet Tubman National Historical Parks Act in the House and worked closely with House and Senate leaders and his colleagues on the Armed Services Committee to get this provision inserted into the NDAA. "In this nation's great history, the life of Harriet Ross Tubman is certainly a life worth recognition by this Congress and this country. Harriet Tubman lived for freedom, and worked hard to extend freedom to hundreds of others. A century after her death, I am proud to have worked so hard to establish a fitting memorial to her. This National Park will preserve Harriet Tubman's legacy, educate current and future generations about her life and work, and also be an economic boon for our region, creating new jobs and attracting much-needed tourism dollars to Central New York."

The Harriet Tubman National Historical Park would include several important historical structures in Auburn.  They include Tubman’s home, the Home for the Aged she established, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church, and the Fort Hill Cemetery where she is buried.

The Cayuga County Office of Tourism estimates approximately 70 new jobs would be supported and tourism spending in Cayuga would increase by $3.12 million annually as a result of the legislation. The tourism industry currently provides $355.73 annual tax relief for every Cayuga County household.  Relief would increase to $370 per household as a result of additional spending resulting from the legislation. Annual attendance would increase by an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 visitors per year as a result of the legislation, based on data from similar national parks.

Harriet Tubman was born in Dorchester County, Maryland, where she spent nearly 30 years as a slave.  She escaped slavery in 1849, but returned to the Eastern Shore several times over the course of 10 years to lead hundreds of African Americans to freedom in the North.  Known as “Moses” by African-American and white abolitionists, she reportedly never lost a “passenger” on the Underground Railroad. In Maryland, The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park would include historically important landscape in Dorchester, Caroline and Talbot counties that are evocative of the life of Harriet Tubman.