A picture of Senator Benjamin L. Cardin
Benjamin C.
Democrat MD

About Sen. Benjamin
  • Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

    by Senator Benjamin L. Cardin

    Posted on 2013-02-07

    submit to reddit

    CARDIN (for himself, Mr. Schumer, Ms. Mikulski, and Mrs. Gillibrand): S. 247. A bill to establish the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, New York, and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Caroline, Dorchester, and Talbot Counties, Maryland, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.



    Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, as we start Black History Month, I rise today to discuss a national hero that I have spoken about many times on the Senate floor. 2013 is a particularly remarkable year for Harriet Ross Tubman in that March 13, 2013 will mark the 100th anniversary of her death. This noteworthy anniversary makes it all the more appropriate for me to talk about Maryland's Harriet Ross Tubman and her dedication to justice, equality and service to this country. It is also why it is important for Congress to take action this year on The Harriet Tubman National Historical Park and The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park Act that I am reintroducing today.

    In my career, I have spoken on the Senate Floor, at events in Maryland, in meetings with constituents and with my colleagues about Harriet Tubman's legacy. While I hope each opportunity I have taken to discuss the life of this remarkable woman helps raise awareness about her importance to the history of our great Nation, my ultimate goal is to properly commemorate her life and her work by establishing the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and, in working with my colleagues from New York, also establish the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, NY.

    For the last 5 years I have championed the legislation I am reintroducing today. I appreciate the active support and work my cosponsors of this bill, Senators Mikulski, Schumer and Gillibrand have put into advancing this bill through the Senate. We all share a deep appreciation for how important establishing these parks is to preserving the legacy of this remarkable historical figure in American History but also to how important these parks will be to the communities where they will be located.

    I also greatly appreciate the support this legislation has received in the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee. In the last Congress, the bill was reported out of committee with bi-partisan support including the support of Chairman Bingaman and Ranking Member Murkowski. I look forward to working with the Committee's new Chairman, the Senior Senator from Oregon in reporting this bill quickly for the full Senate's consideration.

    The establishment of the Harriet Tubman Historical Parks has been years in the making and is long overdue. The mission of the National Park Service has evolved over time from not only preserving natural wonders across the U.S. for recreational purposes but also commemorating unique places of significance to historical events and extraordinary Americans that have shaped our nation.

    The woman, who is known to us as Harriet Tubman, was born in approximately 1822 in Dorchester County, MD and given the name Araminta, Minty, Ross. She spent nearly 30 years of her life in slavery on Maryland's Eastern Shore. She worked on a number of different plantations on Maryland's Eastern Shore and as a teenager was trained to be a seamstress. As an adult she took the first name Harriet, and when she was 25 years-old married John Tubman.

    In her late twenties, Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery in 1849. She fled in the dead of night, navigating the maze of tidal streams and wetlands that, to this day, comprise the Eastern Shore's landscape. She did so alone, demonstrating courage, strength and fortitude that became her hallmarks. Not satisfied with attaining her own freedom, she returned repeatedly for more than 10 years to the places of her enslavement in Dorchester and Caroline counties where, under the most adverse conditions, she led away many family members and other slaves to freedom in the Northeastern United States. She helped develop a complex network of safe houses and recruited abolitionist sympathizers residing along secret routes connecting the Southern slave states and Northern Free States. No one knows exactly how many people she led to freedom or the number of trips between the North and South she led, but the legend of her work was an inspiration to the multitude of slaves seeking freedom and to abolitionists fighting to end slavery. Tubman became known as ``the Moses of her people'' by African-Americans and white abolitionists alike. Tubman once proudly told Frederick Douglass that in all of her journeys she ``never lost a single passenger.'' She was so effective that in 1856 there was a $40,000 reward offered for her capture in the South. She is the most famous and most important conductor of the network of resistance known as the Underground Railroad.

    During the Civil War, Tubman served the Union forces as a spy, a scout and a nurse. She served in Virginia, Florida and South Carolina. She is credited with leading slaves from those slave states to freedom during those years as well.

    Following the Civil War, and the emancipation of all black slaves, Tubman settled in Auburn, NY. There she was active in the women's suffrage movement, and she also established one of the first incorporated African-American homes for aged to care for the elderly. In 1903 she bequeathed the Tubman Home to the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Auburn where it stands to this day. Harriet Tubman died in Auburn in 1913 and she is buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery. Fortunately many of the structures and landmarks in New York remain intact and in relatively good condition.

    Only recently has the Park Service begun establishing units dedicated to the lives of African-Americans. Places like Booker T. Washington National [[Page S523]] Monument on the campus the Tuskegee University in Alabama, the George Washington Carver National Monument in Missouri, The Buffalo Soldiers at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, the National Historical Trail commemorating the March for Voting Rights from Selma to Montgomery Alabama, and most recently the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial on the National Mall are all important monuments and places of historical significance that help tell the story of the African-American experience.

    As the National Park Service continues its important work to recognize and preserve African-American history by providing greater public access and information about the places and people that have shaped the African-American experience, there are very few units dedicated to the lives of African-American women, and there are no National Historical Parks commemorating African-American women.

    I cannot think of a more fitting hero than Harriet Tubman to be the first African-American woman to be memorialized with National Historical Parks that tell both her personal story and her lifelong fight for justice and freedom starting with her fight against the cruel institution of slavery and work of the Underground Railroad she led to her work in the women's suffrage movement.

    I hope that my colleagues will support my effort to honor Harriet Tubman and support passage of my bill to authorize the creation of the Tubman National Historical Parks in New York and Maryland. These parks will hopefully pave the way for the Park Service to develop more National Historical Park commemorating the lives of many other important African-American women in our history.

    The vision for the Tubman National Historical Parks is to preserve the places significant to the life of Harriet Tubman and tell her story through interpretative activities and continue to discover aspects of her life and the experience of passage along the Underground Railroad through archaeological research and discovery.

    The buildings and structures in Maryland have mostly disappeared. Slaves were forced to live in primitive buildings even though many slaves were skilled tradesmen who constructed the substantial homes of their owners. Not surprisingly, few of the structures associated with the early years of Tubman's life remain standing today. The landscape of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, however, is still evocative of the time that Tubman lived there. Farm fields and loblolly pine forests dot the lowland landscape, which is also notable for its extensive network of tidal rivers and wetlands that Tubman, and the people she guided to freedom, under the cover of night. In particular, a number of properties including the homestead of Ben Ross, her father, Stewart's Canal, where he worked, the Brodess Farm, where she worked as a slave, and others are within the master plan boundaries of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

    Similarly, Poplar Neck, the plantation from which she escaped to freedom, is still largely intact in Caroline County. The properties in Talbot County, immediately across the Choptank River from the plantation, are currently protected by various conservation easements. Were she alive today, Tubman would recognize much of the landscape that she knew intimately as she secretly led black men, women and children to freedom.

    There has never been any doubt that Tubman led an extraordinary life. Her contributions to American history are surpassed by few. Determining the most appropriate way to recognize that life and her contributions, however, has been exceedingly difficult. The National Park Service determined that designating a Historical Park that would include two geographically separate units would be an appropriate tribute to the life of this extraordinary American. The New York unit would include the tightly clustered Tubman buildings in the town of Auburn. The Maryland portion would include large sections of landscapes that are evocative of Tubman's time and are historically relevant.

    Harriet Tubman was a true American patriot. She was someone for whom liberty and freedom were not just concepts but values she fought tirelessly for. She lived those principles and so selflessly helped hundreds of other people attain freedom. In doing so, she has earned a nation's respect and honor.

    Harriet Tubman is one of many great Americans that we honor and celebrate every February during Black History Month. In schools across the country, American History curriculums teach our children about Tubman's courage, conviction, her fight for freedom and her contributions to the greatness of our Nation during a contentious time in U.S. history. Now it is time to add to Tubman's legacy by preserving and commemorating the places evocative of Harriet Tubman's extraordinary life.

    Every year, millions of school children, as well as millions of adults, visit our National Historical Parks gain experiences and knowledge about our Nation's history that simply cannot be found in history books or on the Internet. Our Nation's strength and character comes from the actions of the Americans who came before us and the significant events that shaped our Nation. The National Park Service is engaged in the important work of preserving the places where American history was made and providing a tangible experience for current and future generations to experience and understand. It is one thing to learn about Harriet Tubman from a book, and it is yet a completely different and fulfilling experience to explore, see, listen to and feel the places where she worked as a slave, where she escaped from and where she lived out her life as a free American.

    The National Park Service is uniquely suited to honor and preserve these places of historical significance and I urge my colleagues to join me in preserving and growing the legacy of Harriet Tubman by establishing the Harriet Tubman National Historical Parks in her honor.

    Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

    There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: S. 247 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Harriet Tubman National Historical Parks Act''.

    SEC. 2. HARRIET TUBMAN UNDERGROUND RAILROAD NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK, MARYLAND.

    (a) Definitions.--In this section: (1) Historical park.--The term ``historical park'' means the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park established by subsection (b)(1)(A).

    (2) Map.--The term ``map'' means the map entitled ``Authorized Acquisition Area for the Proposed Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park'', numbered T20/80,001, and dated July 2010.

    (3) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of the Interior.

    (4) State.--The term ``State'' means the State of Maryland.

    (b) Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park.-- (1) Establishment.-- (A) In general.--Subject to subparagraph (B), there is established the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Caroline, Dorchester, and Talbot Counties, Maryland, as a unit of the National Park System.

    (B) Determination by secretary.--The historical park shall not be established until the date on which the Secretary determines that a sufficient quantity of land, or interests in land, has been acquired to constitute a manageable park unit.

    (C) Notice.--Not later than 30 days after the date on which the Secretary makes a determination under subparagraph (B), the Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register notice of the establishment of the historical park, including an official boundary map for the historical park.

    (D) Availability of map.--The official boundary map published under subparagraph (C) shall be on file and available for public inspection in appropriate offices of the National Park Service.

    (2) Purpose.--The purpose of the historical park is to preserve and interpret for the benefit of present and future generations the historical, cultural, and natural resources associated with the life of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.

    (3) Land acquisition.-- (A) In general.--The Secretary may acquire land and interests in land within the areas depicted on the map as ``Authorized Acquisition Areas'' by purchase from willing sellers, donation, or exchange.

    (B) Boundary adjustment.--On acquisition of land or an interest in land under subparagraph (A), the boundary of the historical park shall be adjusted to reflect the acquisition.

    (c) Administration.-- (1) In general.--The Secretary shall administer the historical park in accordance [[Page S524]] with this section and the laws generally applicable to units of the National Park System, including-- (A) the National Park System Organic Act (16 U.S.C. 1 et seq.); and (B) the Act of August 21, 1935 (16 U.S.C. 461 et seq.).

    (2) Interagency agreement.--Not later than 1 year after the date on which the historical park is established, the Director of the National Park Service and the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service shall enter into an agreement to allow the National Park Service to provide for public interpretation of historic resources located within the boundary of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge that are associated with the life of Harriet Tubman, consistent with the management requirements of the Refuge.

    (3) Interpretive tours.--The Secretary may provide interpretive tours to sites and resources located outside the boundary of the historical park in Caroline, Dorchester, and Talbot Counties, Maryland, relating to the life of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.

    (4) Cooperative agreements.-- (A) In general.--The Secretary may enter into a cooperative agreement with the State, political subdivisions of the State, colleges and universities, non-profit organizations, and individuals-- (i) to mark, interpret, and restore nationally significant historic or cultural resources relating to the life of Harriet Tubman or the Underground Railroad within the boundaries of the historical park, if the agreement provides for reasonable public access; or (ii) to conduct research relating to the life of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.

    (B) Visitor center.--The Secretary may enter into a cooperative agreement with the State to design, construct, operate, and maintain a joint visitor center on land owned by the State-- (i) to provide for National Park Service visitor and interpretive facilities for the historical park; and (ii) to provide to the Secretary, at no additional cost, sufficient office space to administer the historical park.

    (C) Cost-sharing requirement.-- (i) Federal share.--The Federal share of the total cost of any activity carried out under this paragraph shall not exceed 50 percent.

    (ii) Form of non-federal share.--The non-Federal share of the cost of carrying out an activity under this paragraph may be in the form of in-kind contributions or goods or services fairly valued.

    (d) General Management Plan.-- (1) In general.--Not later than 3 years after the date on which funds are made available to carry out this section, the Secretary shall prepare a general management plan for the historical park in accordance with section 12(b) of the National Park Service General Authorities Act (16 U.S.C. 1a- 7(b)).

    (2) Consultation.--The general management plan shall be prepared in consultation with the State (including political subdivisions of the State).

    (3) Coordination.--The Secretary shall coordinate the preparation and implementation of the management plan with-- (A) the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge; (B) the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park established by section 3(b)(1)(A); and (C) the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

    (e) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out this section.

    SEC. 3. HARRIET TUBMAN NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK, AUBURN, NEW YORK.

    (a) Definitions.--In this section: (1) Historical park.--The term ``historical park'' means the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park established by subsection (b)(1)(A).

    (2) Home.--The term ``Home'' means The Harriet Tubman Home, Inc., located in Auburn, New York.

    (3) Map.--The term ``map'' means the map entitled ``Harriet Tubman National Historical Park'', numbered T18/80,000, and dated March 2009.

    (4) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of the Interior.

    (5) State.--The term ``State'' means the State of New York.

    (b) Harriet Tubman National Historical Park.-- (1) Establishment.-- (A) In general.--Subject to subparagraph (B), there is established the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, New York, as a unit of the National Park System.

    (B) Determination by secretary.--The historical park shall not be established until the date on which the Secretary determines that a sufficient quantity of land, or interests in land, has been acquired to constitute a manageable park unit.

    (C) Notice.--Not later than 30 days after the date on which the Secretary makes a determination under subparagraph (B), the Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register notice of the establishment of the historical park.

    (D) Map.--The map shall be on file and available for public inspection in appropriate offices of the National Park Service.

    (2) Boundary.--The historical park shall include the Harriet Tubman Home, the Tubman Home for the Aged, the Thompson Memorial AME Zion Church and Rectory, and associated land, as identified in the area entitled ``National Historical Park Proposed Boundary'' on the map.

    (3) Purpose.--The purpose of the historical park is to preserve and interpret for the benefit of present and future generations the historical, cultural, and natural resources associated with the life of Harriet Tubman.

    (4) Land acquisition.--The Secretary may acquire land and interests in land within the areas depicted on the map by purchase from a willing seller, donation, or exchange.

    (c) Administration.-- (1) In general.--The Secretary shall administer the historical park in accordance with this section and the laws generally applicable to units of the National Park System, including-- (A) the National Park System Organic Act (16 U.S.C. 1 et seq.); and (B) the Act of August 21, 1935 (16 U.S.C. 461 et seq.).

    (2) Interpretive tours.--The Secretary may provide interpretive tours to sites and resources located outside the boundary of the historical park in Auburn, New York, relating to the life of Harriet Tubman.

    (3) Cooperative agreements.-- (A) In general.--The Secretary may enter into a cooperative agreement with the owner of any land within the historical park to mark, interpret, or restore nationally significant historic or cultural resources relating to the life of Harriet Tubman, if the agreement provides that-- (i) the Secretary shall have the right of access to any public portions of the land covered by the agreement to allow for-- (I) access at reasonable times by historical park visitors to the land; and (II) interpretation of the land for the public; and (ii) no changes or alterations shall be made to the land except by mutual agreement of the Secretary and the owner of the land.

    (B) Research.--The Secretary may enter into a cooperative agreement with the State, political subdivisions of the State, institutions of higher education, the Home and other nonprofit organizations, and individuals to conduct research relating to the life of Harriet Tubman.

    (C) Cost-sharing requirement.-- (i) Federal share.--The Federal share of the total cost of any activity carried out under this paragraph shall not exceed 50 percent.

    (ii) Form of non-federal share.--The non-Federal share may be in the form of in-kind contributions or goods or services fairly valued.

    (D) Attorney general.-- (i) In general.--The Secretary shall submit to the Attorney General for review any cooperative agreement under this paragraph involving religious property or property owned by a religious institution.

    (ii) Finding.--No cooperative agreement subject to review under this subparagraph shall take effect until the date on which the Attorney General issues a finding that the proposed agreement does not violate the Establishment Clause of the first amendment to the Constitution.

    (d) General Management Plan.-- (1) In general.--Not later than 3 years after the date on which funds are made available to carry out this section, the Secretary shall prepare a general management plan for the historical park in accordance with section 12(b) of the National Park Service General Authorities Act (16 U.S.C. 1a- 7(b)).

    (2) Coordination.--The Secretary shall coordinate the preparation and implementation of the management plan with-- (A) the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park established by section 2(b)(1); and (B) the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

    (e) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out this Act, except that not more than $7,500,000 shall be available to provide financial assistance under subsection (c)(3).

    ______ By Mr. WYDEN (for himself and Ms. Murkowski) (by request): S. 256. A bill to amend Public Law 93-435 with respect to the Northern Mariana Islands, providing parity with Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

  • submit to reddit
  • Register your constituent account to respond

    Constituent Register