The Effect of Uncle Tom's Cabin

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The Effect of Uncle Tom's Cabin

Seldom does a one work of literature change a society or start it

down the road to cataclysmic conflict. One such catalytic work is Harriet

Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852). It is considered by many, one

the most influential American works of fiction ever published. Uncle Tom's

Cabin sold more copies than any other previous fiction title. It sold five

thousand copies in its first two days, fifty thousand copies in eight weeks,

three hundred thousand copies in a year and over a million copies in its

first sixteen months. What makes this accomplishment even more amazing is

that this book was written by a woman during a time in history women were

relegated to domestic duties and child rearing and were not allowed

positions of influence or leadership roles in society. Legend holds that

when Abraham Lincoln met Stowe in 1682 he said, "So you're the little woman

who wrote the book that made this great war". The impact of Uncle Tom's

Cabin did more to arouse antislavery sentiment in the N orth and provoke

angry rebuttals in the south than any other event in antebellum era.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), born Lichfeild, Connecticut, was

the daughter, sister, and wife of liberal clergymen and theologians. Her

father Lyman and brother Henry Ward were two of the most preeminent

theologians of the nineteenth century. This extremely devout Christian

upbringing, focusing on the doctrines of sin, guilt, atonement and

salvation, had an undeniable impact in her writings. &nb...

... middle of paper ...

... a disconnected view. Slavery was

no longer a Southern issue that had no impact on the life of those in the

north.

Once a majority of the northern population became polarized against

the institution of slavery it was only a matter of time before conflict

came to a head. Differing views about the institution of slavery

contributed to the growing rift between the north and south. This chasm

became the American Civil War. Uncle Tom's Cabin gave a powerful and

moving voice to the Abolition movement. It shook out of complacently

northerners and southerners alike, and forced a nation to look within its

collective soul at the horrors of slavery and moral contradictions of the

institution itself. Stowe's novel demonstrates the absurdity and

contradictions of slavery.
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