Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce Senate Committee Passage of Bill to Create Harriet Tubman National Historical Parks – Call for Vote on Senate Floor

Mar 15, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced Senate committee passage of legislation to establish the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn as a National Historical Park, which will also encompass the Tubman Home for the Aged, the Thompson Memorial AME Zion Church and Rectory.  The bill also establishes the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Maryland.  Schumer and Gillibrand are sponsors of the Senate legislation, in conjunction with Senator Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski (both D-MD). The Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee voted to report the bill favorably for consideration by the full Senate, and Schumer and Gillibrand are pushing for the bill to come swiftly to the Senate floor for a vote.

The Harriet Tubman National Historical Park and The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park Act, S. 247, will establish two National Historic Parks, one in New York and one in Maryland. The National Historical Park in New York will be located in Auburn and commemorates the later years of her 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 will 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. 

“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 legislation that will provide a big boost to New York’s regional tourism industry as people from across the country flock to Auburn to visit the Harriet Tubman House.”


“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. “Her unwavering commitment to helping others while risking her own life in the long fight for equality has left an indelible legacy. This National Historic 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.”


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