Overcoming the death of a loved one can be one of life's most difficult tasks, especially when that loss involves a parent or a child. Author and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe grieved over death as both mother and child. When she was only five years old, her mother Roxana Foote Beecher, died of tuberculosis. Later at age 38, she lost her infant son Charley to an outbreak of cholera. Together these two traumatic events amplified her condemnation of slavery and ultimately influenced the writing of one of America's most controversial novels, Uncle Tom's Cabin.
On June 14, 1811 Harriet Beecher Stowe became the seventh child born into the religiously devout family of Lyman and Roxana Beecher. Lyman Beecher was a highly respected, but poor clergyman. Roxana, raised in culture and refinement, humbly dedicated herself to serving her husband and children. After giving birth to nine babies in fifteen years, 41-year-old Roxana received a premonition of death. She shared her feelings with her startled husband: "I do not think that I will be with you long. I have had a vision of heaven and its blessedness" (qtd. in Wagenknecht 24). She told of her peace and joy in Christ and of her willingness to leave her family behind. Shortly after this revelation, the rapid symptoms of tuberculosis began to assault her already weak and frail body.
First she was taken by a chill; next came fever and exhaustion. Towards the end, her family helplessly looked on as she endured severe spastic pain to her abdomen. Before she died Roxana told her family that she was not praying for life. Instead she felt religious triumph and a joyous anticipation of heaven. Because of her meek and resigned spirit, Roxana was accord...
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Sand, George. "Review of Uncle Tom's Cabin." La Presse 17 Dec. 1852. Rpt. in Uncle
Tom's Cabin: A Norton Critical Edition by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Ed. Elizabeth Ammons. New York: Norton, 1994.
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Wagenknecht, Edward. Harriet Beecher Stowe: The Known and Unknown. New
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