Harriet Tubman's Ballad
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie
I was five years old in Bucktown Maryland
When into slavery I was sent.
I'll tell you of the beatings and of the fighting
In my ninety-three years I've spent.
I helped a field hand make a run for freedom
When my fifteenth year was rolling round.
And the guard he caught him in a little store
In a little slavery village town.
The boss made a grab to catch the field hand
I jumped in and blocked the door.
The boss he hit me with a two pound scale iron
And I went black down on the floor.
On a bundle of rags in our log cabin
My mother she ministered unto my needs.
It was here I swore I'd give my life blood
Just to turn my people free.
In '44 I married John Tubman
Well I loved him well till '49.
But he would not come and fight beside me
So I left him there behind.
I left Bucktown with my two brothers
But they got scared and run back home.
I followed my northern star of freedom
I walked the grass and trees alone.
I slept in a barn loft and in a haystack
I slept with my people in slavery shacks.
They said I'd die by the boss man's bullets
But I told them I can't turn back.
The sun was shining in the early morning
When I come to my free state line
I pinched myself to see if I was dreaming
I just could not believe my eyes.
I went back home and I got my parents
I loaded them into a buckboard hack.
We crossed six states and other slaves followed
Up to Canada we made our tracks.
One slave got scared and he tried to turn backwards
I pulled my pistol in front of his eyes.
I said get up and walk to your freedom
Or by this fireball you will die.
When John Brown hit them at Harper's Ferry
My men was fighting right by his side.
When John Brown swung upon his gallows
It was then I hung my head and cried.
Give the black man guns and give him powder
To Abe Lincoln this I said:
You've just crippled that snake of slavery
We've got to fight to kill him dead.
When we faced the guns of lightning
Yes, we faced the zigzag lightning
And the thunders broke our sleep.
After we waded the bloody rainstorms
It was dead men that we reaped.
But it was worth the price we paid.
When our thunder had rumbled over
We'd laid slavery in its grave.
Come now and stand around my deathbed
And I will sing some spirit songs.
I'm my way to my greater union
Now my ninety-three years are gone.
© Copyright 1972 (renewed), 2000 (renewed) by Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc. & TRO-Ludlow Music, Inc. (BMI)
The Richmond Organization (TRO)
Attention: Kathryn Ostien
266 West 37th Street, 17th Floor / New York, NY 10018-6609