On March 20th 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was published. Within three months, the novel had sold 300,000 copies and was so widely read that when President Abraham Lincoln met Stowe in 1862, he reportedly said, “so you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”
Stowe was born on June 14th 1811, the seventh child of the famous Congregationalist minister Lyman Beecher. She studied at private schools in Connecticut, then taught in Hartford from 1827 until her father moved to Cincinnati in 1832. She accompanied him and continued to teach while writing stories and essays. In 1836, she married Calvin Ellis Stowe, with whom she had seven children. She published her first book, Mayflower, in 1843.
While living in Cincinnati, Stowe encountered fugitive slaves and the Underground Railroad. Later, she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin in reaction to recently tightened fugitive slave laws. The book had a major influence on the way the American public viewed slavery. The book established Stowe’s reputation as a woman of letters.
In June 1851, when she was 40, the first instalment of her Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published in the National Era. She originally used the subtitle “The Man That Was A Thing”, but it was soon changed to “Life Among the Lowly.” Instalments were published weekly from June 5, 1851, to April 1, 1852. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published in book form on March 20, 1852, by John P. Jewett with an initial print run of 5,000 copies. Each of its two volumes included three illustrations and a title-page designed by Hammatt Billings. It was an instant literary success. By December, as sales began to wane, Jewett issued an inexpensive edition to further inspire sales.
The book’s emotional portrayal of the impact of slavery captured the nation’s attention. It added to the debate about abolition and slavery, and aroused opposition in the South. Within a year, 300 babies were named “Eva” in Boston alone and a play based on the book opened in New York in November of that year.
She traveled to England in 1853, where she was welcomed as a literary hero. Along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, she became one of the original contributors to The Atlantic, which launched in November 1857. In 1863, when Lincoln announced the end of slavery, she danced in the streets. Stowe continued to write throughout her life and died in 1896, aged 86.
I loved her book. A couple of years ago I visited her house in Hartford and loved it.
This books is a very good read. I loved the book, and hated the context if you could put something like that?
Amazing what people did with, treated, handled and viewed slavery. I think this book is a very good learning tool.
Thanks for posting this.
I read this article today:
Yes, she enhanced anti-slavery sentiment, but failed to understand the causes of it – or how difficult it would be to eradicate it.
Americans were incapable of understanding that two cultures were involved, and how irrational and determined the slavery culture was. In my opinion, the Southern states should have been allowed to leave and form their own country. If this had been done early enough, the expansion of slavery could have been contained more easily.
The North could of strengthened its military advantages rationally and gradually – with clear objectives in sight.
Reblogged this on LE ARTISTE BOOTS and commented:
The book shows the power of words. One person can make a difference. Thanks for an excellent reminder.
Love history 😉
A truly remarkable women. I wonder if she had any idea how her book was going to be received by the people.
After she HAD witnessed the actual river crossing how could it not ?
This was the first real book I ever read – cried when I saw the film … some book. In all fairness I didn’t remember that the author was a woman. Fantastic book and a fantastic woman I understand from your post here. Thank you so much .. for sharing.
I’ve toured her home in Hartford and it is very sweet and low key, especially when compared to Mark Twain’s rather over-the-top place next door.
Do you have pics online that you can post a link here?
7 children and an unforgettable book. Now that’s something!
When I was 13 my Mother took her two Eliza-ish children to EXPO 67 CAMPING, (Tenting.), we went there via the Detroit, Michigan route so we could see Uncle Tom’s “Cabin” in DRESDEN, ONTARIO. It’s an ENTIRE FARM with MANY acres. Being from Ohio the site where Ms. Stowe witnessed the event that triggered her tome is still available to the interested as the area around the Underground Railroad Museum.
Cheers, “D” / om
I ABSOLUTELY loved this book, it made me cry and was deeply moving. Definitely a book to read again and again…Peace Jaz
As always another fantastic post. Love this book!
Funny coincidence, I just started reading this.
It’s a terrific book, with an awesome impact on history.