Uncle Toms Cabin by Harriet Beacher Stowe
Uncle Tom's Cabin was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe. The story follows Tom through his many experiences as a slave, and tells of a family of runaway slaves attempting to escape to Canada via the Underground Railroad. Her story was serialized for about 40 weeks in 1851. It came out as a book in 1852. There were many critics of the story. Some abolitionists did not think it showed enough of the evils of slavery. Southerners denounced it as unfounded in fact and totally ridiculous. But the story was very popular in both the United States and in England.
Was it accurate? Harriet Beecher Stowe insisted God wrote the book, not her, through her visions. However it was written, it brought the plight of slaves in the South to national attention, and got people talking about the wrongness of slavery.
Harriet Beecher Stowe was the daughter of a minister. She married a minister, who was also a professor. They lived in Ohio and later in Maine. She was a school teacher. She was also humble and shy, a devout Christian, and an avid abolitionist. She felt it was her duty to help runaway slaves. But in truth, she had very little knowledge of the life of a slave. Most of her information was from other abolitionists. Much of her book was total fiction, written from her imagination. She wrote heart-breaking scenes that stirred a nation. Her novel most probably hastened the coming of the Civil War.
Legend says: When meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe, President Abraham Lincoln said, "So this is the little lady who made this big war." It probably never happened, but it does sound like Lincoln. He had quite a sense of humor.
She wrote other novels, including Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp, which was another antislavery novel. She wrote essays as well. She was a great writer. She died at the age of 85. Since her death, Uncle Tom's Cabin has been translated into many different languages and is still produced as a play. It is as moving today as it was over 160 years ago.