Mightier Than The Sword: Uncle Tom's Cabin, By David S. Reynolds

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Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the battle for America, is a book written by David S. Reynolds. Reynolds is the Bancroft Prize-winning author of Walt Whitman’s America and a Distinguished Professor of English and American Studies at the graduate Center of the City University of New York. This intensely researched work by Reynolds is a reflection on Harriet Beecher Stowe’s life, the development of her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the most influential novel ever written by an American and its direct effect on American culture, democracy, politics, social events and the impact not only on the abolitionist movement but also traces to the American Civil War.…show more content…
She was genius, intelligent and studious as her father described her (p.5) and is best known for her novel Uncle Tom 's Cabin (1852). Born on June 14, 1811 in Litchfield, Connecticut and the seventh of nine children (p.2), Harriet was part of a prominent religious family. When Harriet was in her twenties, she moved with her family to Cincinnati Ohio where her father became president of Lane Theological Seminary (p.14). She was married to the theology professor Calvin Ellis Stowe who shared her sympathy for fugitive slaves. Together they became involved in the Underground Railroad, temporarily housing several fugitive slaves in their home and once, helped send a fugitive slave woman to Canada with the help of friendly northerners. Her husband, who was earning low wage, encouraged Harriet to write to support the family (pp.20&21). The stories she wrote on religious and racial divide led to the iconic characters Tom and Eva who sympathized with slaves (p.36). Harriet recreated bible scenes in a deeply human way and her personal engagement with the bible led to the vision and creation of Uncle Toms Cabin. It was at a community in Brunswick church where she talked about a vision she had where a slave was being whipped to death by his slave owner (p.33). So she went home and with this vision in mind, she wrote down the scene which became the tragic climax of Uncle Toms Cabin and then other scenes came into mind (pp33&34).…show more content…
The novel “filtered the most subversive, sensational, or raucous cultural energies of the time true the cult of domesticity, which put the home and the family at the center of life”(p.43). Indeed, the historic importance of the book rather than its literary merits is the reason it is still read today. At the time of its publication, slavery was a highly controversial issue that raised questions about the cultural and economic future of the South as well as about human dignity and justice. The book brought slavery home to Americans. Southerners strongly denounced the book, but it called apathetic Northerner 's to action by appealing to their Christian duty to end the moral wrong of slavery. It put the South on the defensive because Southerners viewed it as an attack on slavery and the South as a whole. It had such a strong effect because it used a dramatic and emotional story to send the message that slavery was a moral, not just a political issue (pp147-160). The book brought attention to Slavery not only within the U.S., but also created uproar abroad. It gave rise to calls from England for the end of slavery. In the war’s wake, Uncle Tom’s Cabin influenced emancipation causes worldwide, during that century and the next. And, despite the legalized segregation of the Jim Crow era, it remained popular, being spun off into traveling shows, silent films, advertising campaigns, cartoons, and
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