Impact of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin

Impact of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin

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Harriet Beecher Stowe was born on June 14, 1811, in Connecticut. She was the seventh child of a famous protestant preacher. Harriet worked as a teacher with her older sister Catharine, at the Hartford Female Academy. She was also an established writer. She helped support her family financially by writing local and religious periodicals.
Harriet began writing when she was young, beginning with poems, travel books, and children’s books, and eventually writing adult novels. Her first adult novel that she wrote and published was Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852, after the Fugitive Slave Law was passed. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a controversial book that Harriet wrote on her feelings of slavery. The story focuses on the harsh reality of slavery and the main character, Uncle Tom, a suffering black slave whose Christian love and faith overcame enslavement.
Uncle Tom's Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century, and the second best-selling book of the century after the Bible. 300,000 copies of the book were sold in the first year after it was published. Harriet being a sworn abolitionist, her views and comments written in the book helped start the Abolitionist Cause in the 1850’s. The book also spread many stereotypes about African-Americans, such as Mammy (slang for mother), Pickaninny (slang for a black child), and Uncle Tom (slang for a black servant faithful to his white master or mistress). The impact of the book was so great, that before the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln wanted to meet Harriet. When he finally met her in 1862, he said, “So you’re the little woman that wrote the book that made this big war!”.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, however, had a greater impact in England than it did in America. The first London edition of the book came out in May, 1852, and sold over one million copies. The biggest reason it was more popular in England than America was because of British antipathy to America. One remarkable writer from England explained that "The evil passions which 'Uncle Tom' gratified in England were not hatred or vengeance [of slavery], but national jealousy and national vanity. We have long been smarting under the conceit of America--we are tired of hearing her boast that she is the freest and the most enlightened country that the world has ever seen. Our clergy hate her voluntary system--our Tories hate her democrats--our Whigs hate her parvenus--our Radicals hate her litigiousness, her insolence, and her ambition.

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All parties hailed Mrs. Stowe as a revolter from the enemy." An American minister, Charles Francis Adams, argued that "Uncle Tom's Cabin, published in 1852, exercised, largely from fortuitous circumstances, a more immediate, considerable and dramatic world-influence than any other book ever printed."
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