Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, has been widely identified as the most influential American novel in the country’s history. Books have, of course, always had the power to bring about great social change, and the widespread distribution of Uncle Tom’s Cabin gave a vivid image of Southern life, particularly the mistreatment of slaves, to the entire country. While slavery was previously an issue between slaveholders and abolitionists, the moral outrage caused by Uncle Tom’s Cabin went a long way towards bringing the slavery debate to the forefront of the entire American consciousness. Broadly speaking, the book’s success brought the moral conflict to the general public, causing many ordinary citizens to form their own moral judgments, often critical ones, of the nature of slavery, while they previously would have been more apathetic. Here, I will investigate the reaction to and effects of the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, particularly divided into two groups: the scholarly or critical reaction, and the public reaction, including both public opinion of the book and the various derivative works that were created for public consumption. I have researched both portions of this topic through the more modern works of historical analysis, and by examining primary sources reproduced in online collections (with especially heavy use of Railton’s extremely resourceful website, for which I would like to acknowledge my gratitude).
Outside of the Southern region that Uncle Tom’s Cabin criticized, the book immediately received a critical reception “of wild enthusiasm” (Donovan 16) that fully recognized the strong moral weight that was carried in its strong narrative. While the...
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...can Culture: A Multi-Media Archive. Dir. Stephen Railton. 2002. <http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/utc/onstage/films/mv03hp.html>
Other Relevant Works
Hildreth, Margaret Holbrook. Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Bibliography. Hamden, CT: Archon, 1976.
Jorgenson, Chester E., comp. Uncle Tom’s Cabin as Book and Legend: A Guide to an Exhibition. Detroit: 1952.
Stowe, Charles Edward. Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Boston: Houghton & Mifflin, 1890.
Stowe, Harriet Beecher. A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Port Washington, NY: Kennikat, 1853.
 To clarify, while “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was the title of both the novel and the play, my mention of the title in this document refers to the novel unless otherwise stated.
 This name “is almost certainly a pseudonym” (UTCAC).
 UTCAC identifies Gamaliel Bailey as a possible author of this anonymous article.
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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.... [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays]
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- “Scenes of blood and cruelty are shocking to our ear and heart. What man has nerve to do, man has not nerve to hear” (Stowe 349). This quote, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe in her novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is found directly after the southern slaveholder, Simon Legree, killed his slave and main character of the novel, Uncle Tom. It was instances, such as those in Uncle Tom’s Cabin that shocked the North; Southerners treated their slaves horrifically, but responded with criticism and denial about the events portrayed.... [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe]
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- The novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe and published in the United States in 1852. The novel depicted slavery as a moral evil and was the cause of much controversy at the time and long after. Uncle Tom's Cabin outraged the South and received praise in the North. The publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin was a major turning point for the United States which helped bring about the Civil War. Uncle Tom's Cabin is said to have contributed to the Civil War because it brought the evils of slavery to the attention of Americans more vividly than any other book had done before ("Harriett's Life").... [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays]
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- The Effective Story in Uncle Tom’s Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe, a northern abolitionist, published her best-selling novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852. Uncle Tom’s Cabin contracts the many different attitudes that southerners as well as northerners shared towards slavery. Generally, it shows the evils of slavery and the cruelty and inhumanity of the peculiar institution, in particular how masters treat their slaves and how families are torn apart because of slavery. The novel centers around a pious slave, Uncle Tom, and how he is sold over and over again.... [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin]
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- Harriet Beecher Stowe and Uncle Tom’s Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe was born on June 14, 1811. Her father was Lyman Beecher, pastor of the Congregational Church in Harriet’s hometown of Litchfield, Connecticut. Harriet’s brother was Henry Ward Beecher who became pastor of Brooklyn’s Plymouth Church. The religious background of Harriet’s family and of New England taught Harriet several traits typical of a New Englander: theological insight, piety, and a desire to improve humanity (Columbia Electronic Library; “Biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe”).... [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays]
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- Reaction to Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin “So this is the little lady who made this big war.” Abraham Lincoln’s legendary comment upon meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe demonstrates the significant place her novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, holds in American history. Published in book form in 1852, the novel quickly became a national bestseller and stirred up strong emotions in both the North and South. The context in which Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written, therefore, is just as significant as the actual content.... [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays]
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- The Characters from Uncle Tom's Cabin Uncle Tom - The hero of the novel, a faithful and very intelligent slave. On the Shelby estate he serves as a kind of a spiritual father to the slaves. He does not run away when he learns he will be sold away from his wife and children. He is bold in his convictions, even giving advice to one master, Augustine St. Clare. When others encourage him to fight or run, he refuses, claiming it is his duty to serve the man who has purchased him and hope that by faithfulness, he will earn his reward.... [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe Essays]
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- African American Response to Uncle Tom's Cabin Many African American 19th Century critics saw Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin as a ray of hope and a means out of oppression. Critics praised the dialogue, the interjected sentimental stories, as well as the characterization. In fact, many considered the novel to be a gift from God. Uncle Tom's Cabin was the only popularized writing at the time that touched upon slavery as negative. The novel was popular in general but more importantly to African Americans.... [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays]
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