During a time when politicians hoped the American people would forget about slavery, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a novel that brought it to the attention of thousands. Stowe’s ideas had a profound affect on a growing abolitionist movement not because they were original, but because they were common.
Harriet was born in an orderly, federal-era town of Litchfield, Connecticut on June 14th 1811. She was the seventh child of Lyman and Roxana Beecher. Her family ran a boarding house during her childhood, which her father Lyman was constantly expanding to make room for is growing family and growing number of boarders. (Hendrick, 1994)
Lyman Beecher joined the ministry during the beginning of the religious revival called the Second Great Awakening. The first sermon to bring him to national prominence was an attack on the aristocratic institution of dueling. His success on his crusades for Christ proved him unsuccessful in family life. In one letter Roxana wrote to her sister, “ He is every body’s man.” Every body’s man but hers, that is. (Hendrick, 1994)
Roxana Beecher was a very educated woman. She was the “queen” of a circle of educated women for her taste in literature. Her witty personality was the reason Lyman chose her over her sisters. (Hendrick, 1994) In 1808, Roxana gave birth to a daughter, whom she called Harriet. The child passed away from whooping cough only a few short days after birth. About two years later, after returning to Litchfield from East Hampton where Lyman was fulfilling his call to preach there, Roxana gave birth to another baby girl. Like the baby who had died, she named her Harriet. In 1816, Roxana died from tuberculosis at the age of forty-one. (Hendrick, 1994)
Harriet received t...
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...4, she produced at least one book every year to support her large family. Stowe not only advocated the rights of slaves but the rights of women also. She did this in the late 1860’s in a series of articles published in Atlantic Monthly. Also, she wrote more on this topic in Hearth and Home. She argued that, “ Taxation without representation is tyranny,” and urged that since women were taxed they deserved the right to elect their representatives.
Harriet Beecher Stowe, knowingly jumpstarted the abolitionist movement with her captivating novel. Since most of her avid readers were women, She inherently knew that one path toward political and social power was through women’s hearts and emotions. Abraham Lincoln reportedly said to Harriet when she visited the White House in 1862, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this Great War!” (Hendrick, 1994)
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