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This Day in Georgia History

March 21, 1794

Emily Tubman Born

Philanthropist Emily Harvie Thomas Tubman was born in Ashland, Va. In 1818, she married Richard Tubman, a highly successful and respected member of ante-bellum society in Augusta, Georgia. In 1836, Richard died of illness, and his will left most of his considerable estate to his wife (who was also designated sole administrator of the will). She spent much of the rest of her life supporting worthy causes – but the one she is best remembered for is her role in implementing Richard’s wish (supported by $10,000 in his will) that 42 family slaves be freed. This goal, however, was complicated by Georgia law, which at the time prohibited allowing freed slaves to remain in Georgia. After looking at several alternatives, Emily used the $10,000 in 1837 to send the 42 slaves to a new home for freed American slaves in Liberia on the coast of West Africa. Here, the Tubman’s former slaves prospered in a new community named Mount Tubman (with the grandson of one later becoming president of Liberia). In her later years, Emily had two homes - one in Augusta and one in Frankfort, Kentucky. She was a philanthropist and supported religious and educational causes in both cities. In 1874, she endowed the Neely Institute, Augusta’s first high school for girls and which was later renamed Emily Tubman High School in her honor. She died in Augusta on June 9, 1885. Her funeral was held in the Augusta, but her body was returned to Kentucky, where she was buried in the Frankfort Cemetery.