Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce: Bill to Create Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn Passes Key Senate Committee for the First Time

Nov 10, 2011

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced that, for the first time ever, legislation to create a national park at the Harriet Tubman House has passed the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The bill must now be voted on by the full Senate. The Harriet Tubman National Historical Parks Act would establish two parks, one in New York and one in Maryland. The National Historic Park in Auburn, NY would focus on Tubman’s later years, where she was active in the suffrage movement and 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 of the Underground Railroad. 

“This is another important step down the road to honoring Harriet Tubman, a true American hero, with a national park at her home in Auburn,” said Senator Schumer. “The hardworking men and women who have been keeping up the Tubman House in Auburn deserve to see their work come to fruition. I will keep pushing to make the Harriet Tubman house the national park that will be a boost for the regional economy and a magnet for tourists.” 

“Harriet Tubman is a remarkable American hero who continues to inspire me today,” said Senator Gillibrand, who toured Harriet Tubman’s home and the Home for the Aged that she established in Auburn, New York this August. “Her unwavering commitment to helping others while risking her own life in the long fight for equality has left an indelible legacy. This national park in Auburn would provide an important place where men and women of all backgrounds can come together and reflect on the significance of her life.” 

In New York, the bill authorizes grants for the preservation, rehabilitation, and restoration of the properties in Auburn associated with the life of Harriet Tubman including Tubman’s home, the Home for the Aged that she established, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church and its rectory. The legislation would also help educate the public and boost tourism in the region by providing funds for the development and construction of interpretive historical materials. Thematically linking several historical sites would 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 New York and Maryland. 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.  

Schumer and Gillibrand’s legislation would preserve and honor the story of a true American hero while providing an economic boost to Auburn and the surrounding region. Both Senators applaud the committee’s passage of the Harriet Tubman legislation. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin of Maryland are also sponsors of the legislation.