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An effort to create a national park system in honor of Maryland's own Harriet Tubman on the Eastern Shore received approval Thursday from a key Congressional committee.

U.S. Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski, both Democrats, sponsored the bill that would create a national park in Caroline, Dorchester and Talbot counties – and a separate park in Auburn, N.Y., where Tubman also spent time – to honor the Eastern shore native who was born into slavery but ultimately lead dozens of slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad.

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"This is a great day for those who want to honor the legacy of Harriet Tubman, a true American heroine and patriot, for whom liberty and freedom were not just ideas, but represented a real struggle for human rights," Cardin said in a statement announcing the vote.

The National Park Service in 2009 endorsed a plan to designate sites associated with Tubman in Maryland and New York as part of its system, but the plan was unable to get Congressional approval since it was introduced earlier this year.

The park in Maryland will include the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in Dorchester County, which state officials announced earlier this year is scheduled to be completed in 2013, the 100-year-anniversary of Tubman's death.

Tubman was born in Dorchester County and escaped slavery in 1849. She returned to the Eastern Shore several times over the next decade to lead dozens of African Americans to freedom in the north.

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