Bill S971-2011

Designates the tenth day of March of each year as a public holiday, to be known as Harriet Tubman day

Designates the tenth day of March of each year as a public holiday, to be known as Harriet Tubman day.





BILL NUMBER:S971               REVISED 01/10/2011


An act to amend the general construction law, in relation to the designation of Harriet Tubman day


The primary purpose of this legislation is to establish a public holiday that commemorates Harriet Tubman, her life achievements and her pivotal role in the "Underground Railroad". The legislation will designate the tenth of March of each year, to be known as Harriet Tubman Day.


This legislation will make the tenth of March of each year a public holiday, to be known as Harriet Tubman Day.


Harriet Ross Tubman was an American heroine and patriot, who faithfully served her country and liberated her people. Her tireless efforts to attain freedom for those enslaved, and her dedication to stop the inhumane practice of slavery should be recognized and celebrated. It is only fitting to pay tribute to an American heroine, who sacrificed everything for the well being of her people and country. The creation of a state holiday, that recognizes the lifetime achievements and the historical legacy established by Harriet Tubman, throughout New York State is befitting.

Harriet Ross Tubman, the great American abolitionist, was born on the Eastern Shore of Maryland around 1820, on a plantation in Dorchester County, Maryland. As in the case of many slaves, Harriet Tubman was put to work as a field hand at an early age. Because of her color and her status as a slave, she was denied the opportunity to learn to read or write. Nevertheless, Harriet Tubman was able to rise above the limitations that were placed on her as a slave and as a black woman.

In 1849, Harriet Tubman escaped to the North and settled in Philadelphia. While in Philadelphia, Harriet Tubman met William Still, the Philadelphia Stationmaster of the "Underground Railroad". It was William Still along with the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society that introduced Harriet Tubman to the inner workings of the "underground Railroad". The "underground Railroad" was a network of families and people that offered their assistance, food or shelter to slaves, during their escape to the north.

One year after her escape, Harriet Tubman became a conductor (guide who led escaped slaves to freedom) on the "Underground Railroad". In 1851, Harriet Tubman relocated members of her family to North Street in St. Catherines Ontario, Canada. This eventually became her headquarters for the "Underground Railroad". In the ensuing years, Harriet Tubman became one of the most influential conductors. In the mid 1850s Harriet Tubman made the acquaintance of United states Senator, Secretary of State and former New York State Governor William H. Seward and his wife Frances in Auburn, New York. The Sewards in 1857, provided a home for Harriet Tubman in Auburn, New York, which was later sold to her. This new home was to become her new base of operations for the Underground Railroad.

When the civil War began, Harriet Tubman was able to liberate several hundreds of her people to freedom, via the "Underground Railroad". As the most influential conductor in the "Underground Railroad", Harriet Tubman helped free approximately 300 slaves. Harriet Tubman was proud to claim that, "she never ran her train off the track and never lost a passenger." When the Civil War began, Harriet Tubman served as a cook in the Union Army in South Carolina, a nurse, a scout for raiding parties, and a spy behind confederate lines. After her service to the Union army, Harriet Tubman returned to Auburn, New York where she lived the remaining years of her life.

In 1903, Harriet Tubman transferred ownership of her property to the A.M.E. Zion Church. After her death in March 1913, the church developed and managed her home and adjacent property in order to sustain her memory. Harriet Tubman was buried in Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, New York with full military honors. Currently, the Harriet Tubman home and property are registered as National Historic Landmarks in Auburn, New York. The site is also part of the National Parks Service Freedom Trail.

Harriet Tubman was many things to many people, but to the black slave she was considered to be the "Black Moses" who delivered to them the "buried promise of freedom". Harriet Tubman through her actions and life embodied the true essence of service, spirit and strength. It is estimated that through her service about 300 slaves were able to attain their freedom. Because of her spirit, countless slaves were given hope and through her strength and conviction, she was compelled to risk her own freedom so that other slaves could experience freedom. Through the establishment of a state holiday, this legislation aims to ensure that the rich historical legacy and life achievements of Harriet Tubman are recognized and celebrated throughout New York State.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2009-10: S.4027/A.3416B (Pretlow) - Reported and Committed to Finance 2000: A.9200/S.621B Passed Assembly



EFFECTIVE DATE: This legislation will take effect on the first of January, next succeeding the date on which it shall have become a law.


STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 971 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 5, 2011 ___________
Introduced by Sens. HASSELL-THOMPSON, ADAMS, ADDABBO, ALESI, BRESLIN, DIAZ, HANNON, HUNTLEY, KRUEGER, LANZA, MONTGOMERY, NOZZOLIO, OPPEN- HEIMER, PARKER, PERKINS, SAVINO, STEWART-COUSINS, VALESKY -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Judiciary AN ACT to amend the general construction law, in relation to the desig- nation of Harriet Tubman day THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 24 of the general construction law, as amended by chapter 347 of the laws of 1984, is amended to read as follows: S 24. Public holidays; half-holidays. The term public holiday includes the following days in each year: the first day of January, known as New Year's day; the third Monday of January, known as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day; the twelfth day of February, known as Lincoln's birthday; the third Monday in February, known as Washington's birthday; THE TENTH DAY OF MARCH, KNOWN AS HARRIET TUBMAN DAY; the last Monday in May, known as Memorial day; the second Sunday in June, known as Flag day; the fourth day of July, known as Independence day; the first Monday in September, known as Labor day; the second Monday in October, known as Columbus day; the eleventh day of November, known as Veterans' day; the fourth Thursday in November, known as Thanksgiving day; and the twenty- fifth day of December, known as Christmas day, and if any of such days except Flag day is Sunday, the next day thereafter; each general election day, and each day appointed by the president of the United States or by the governor of this state as a day of general thanksgiv- ing, general fasting and prayer, or other general religious observances. The term half-holiday includes the period from noon to midnight of each Saturday which is not a public holiday. S 2. This act shall take effect on the first of January next succeed- ing the date on which it shall have become a law.


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