On March 25, 2013, President Obama honored Tubman’s legacy by naming the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland. The monument includes multiple properties that are “significant to Tubman’s early life in Dorchester County and evocative of her life as a slave and conductor of the Underground Railroad.”

The Conservation Fund’s Role

The Conservation Fund helped make this designation possible by donating a key 480-acre property, at the heart of the monument, to the National Park Service. That property includes the former home site of Jacob Jackson, a “free black” who helped Tubman rescue her brothers. The monument’s land, on the Eastern Shore, has the extraordinary power to tell Tubman’s story right where it happened—and in a landscape that still looks much like it did during her time.

A national monument like this is never the work of just one group or one leader. President Obama, Governor Martin O’Malley, the entire Maryland delegation, and dozens of community leaders, historians, and conservationists have all worked to make the monument a reality. The Fund is honored to have played a lead partnership role.

Why This Project Matters

By designating lands honoring Harriet Tubman as a national monument, President Obama gives this property the same status as any national park, such as the Grand Canyon. Once a site has been designated a national monument, Congress still has authority to designate it into a national park. In fact, almost half our current national parks were first designated as national monuments. Efforts to achieve a national park honoring Harriet Tubman continue.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park

In March 2013, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources broke ground on the new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park, slated to open in 2015. The new park, established on a 17-acre property protected by the Fund, commemorates Tubman’s life work on the Underground Railroad in the landscape of marshes, woodlands and fields that are reminiscent of the backdrop for her early life on the Eastern Shore. The land is physically and thematically linked to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge through programming, multi-use trails and roads.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park

In December 2014, the U.S. Congress passed and President Obama subsequently signed the National Defense Authorization Act that established two new parks commemorating Tubman: (1) the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Maryland and (2) the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in New York.  These two parks will be administered by the National Park Service and will complement Maryland’s National Monument and State Park.  The Conservation Fund applauded the creation of these Parks in this Media Statement.

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