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NPS Names First Superintendent for Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument

By Guest Observer October 31, 2013

One of America’s newest national parks now has its first superintendent. Northeast Regional Director Dennis R. Reidenbach has selected Cherie Butler, a 21-year veteran of the National Park Service, as superintendent of Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument. Butler has been serving as the monument’s acting superintendent since March of this year.

Established by Presidential Proclamation on March 25, 2013, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument commemorates the life of the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad, a fearless woman who enabled many enslaved people to emancipate themselves and escape to freedom in the North. The new national monument is located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and includes large sections of landscapes that are significant to Tubman’s early life in Dorchester County and evocative of her life as an enslaved person and conductor of the Underground Railroad.

Established by Congress in 1998, The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program of the National Park Service works in collaboration with local, state, and federal entities to promote programs and partnerships to commemorate, preserve sites and other resources associated with, and to educate the public about the historical significance of the Underground Railroad.

Key sites in Harriet Tubman National Monument include Stewart’s Canal, dug by hand by free and enslaved people, including Tubman, between 1810 and the 1830s. Stewart’s Canal is part of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refugeand, although part of the new national monument, it will continue to be managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The monument also includes the home site of Jacob Jackson, a free Black man who used coded letters to help Tubman communicate with family and others. The Jacob Jackson Home Sitewas donated to the National Park Service by The Conservation Fund for inclusion in the new national monument. The State of Maryland’s Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park Visitor Center will be another key site in the national monument when it opens in 2015.

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