African American Response to Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

African American Response to Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Length: 1197 words (3.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
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. However, the response to the book was limited considering the scarcity of African American newspapers and writers. Much of the African American population at the time was held down by slavery, illiteracy, and/or a lack of places to publish.

 

      One of the few venues for African American reaction was Frederick Douglass' Paper. William G. Allen, a free black teacher, comments on a particular scene of dialogue in Uncle Tom's Cabin in his letter to this publication: "The religious conversation between the slave-tenders . . . is a capital thing . . . . How it tells upon the miserable spittle-licking religionists of the present day, who, as Tom Stoker has it, are running up a bill all their lives with the devil, calculating to sneak out when pay time comes" (Allen). This discussion between Tom Stoker, Mr. Marks, and Mr. Haley is about whether the slave trade is a Christian business. Mr Haley says, "I b'lieve in religion, and one of these days, when I've got matters tight and snug, I calculates to tend to my soul and them ar matters; and so what's the use of doin' any more wickedness than 's re'lly necessary?--it don't seem to me it's 't all prudent" (Stowe 57). Tom Stoker replies that Mr. Haley is just trying to do evil things all his life with slavery, only to sneak out in the end and go to heaven. William G. Allen, in reference to this scene, commends Stowe's comparison and the relationship between Christianity and slavery.

 

      Allen also praises the touching story of the Quadroon girl in Volume II, Chapter XXXIV. He writes, "The story of the Quadroon girl . . . exceeds anything that I have ever read, in all that is soul-searching and thrilling" (Allen). In the story of Cassy, the Quadroon girl, she helps nurse Uncle Tom back to health after having been beaten and tells him that there is no God.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"African American Response to Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe." 123HelpMe.com. 28 Mar 2020
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=13497>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Uncle Tom 's Cabin By Harriet Beecher Stowe Essay

- David S. Reynolds, a Professor and specialist in American Literature, Studies, and culture. Who has a Ph.D. from the University of California and author of Mightier than the Sword along with a couple other book. Reynolds wrote “mightier than the sword” with the sole purpose of dismantling all affects the internationally famous book Uncle Tom 's Cabin written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, brought upon the United States to help abolish slavery and the forming of American culture from the late nineteenth century, and up to present day....   [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe]

Research Papers
773 words (2.2 pages)

Response of Fredrick Douglass to Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

- Fredrick Douglass' Response to Uncle Tom's Cabin      Frederick Douglass was arguably the most prominent African American abolitionist during the mid-19th century. He established his notoriety through his narrative entitled Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave published in 1845. Frederick Douglass also produced an African American newspaper, Frederick Douglass' Paper, which highlighted the reception and critiques of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. Frederick Douglass praised Uncle Tom's Cabin through not only his writing but in the critiques and letters contained in his newspaper....   [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays]

Research Papers
955 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on The Influence of Harriet Beecher Stowe´s Novel: Uncle Tom´s Cabin

- “Is this the little woman who made this great war?” Lincoln said as he greeted the renowned author, Harriet Beecher Stowe. This abolitionist writer created her famous novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, in response to the Fugitive Slave Law and the politics about slavery in the South. Some Americans even believed that Stowe and her book brought on The Civil War (Reynolds). Because of this, Harriet needed a way to attract more citizens into the anti-slavery cause. With her book, Stowe showed everyone the truth about slavery, even though not everyone agreed with her....   [tags: Slavery, Civil War]

Research Papers
752 words (2.1 pages)

The Haitian Revolution And African Americans Essay

- Although the Haitian Revolution inspired several revolts made from African Americans, African American themselves were not significantly responsible for slavery’s end. However, different regions had different circumstances that caused African Americans to either have an abundance amount of influence to slavery’s end or little to no influence. The reason being is due to the level of resistance that varied depending on the location of the slaves. Various number of slaves were forced to depend on the number of supporters that they had to work with because without enough support, the revolts would not go well, which again would not lead to the end of slavery....   [tags: W. E. B. Du Bois, African American, Black people]

Research Papers
1539 words (4.4 pages)

Robert Duncanson 's Uncle Tom And Little Eva Essay

- Nature was not the only thing at risk during the Industrial Revolution. The social structure was being challenged by social justice leaders around the country. The feminist and abolition movements swept the nation, and the art scene. Artists took to showing the injustice of slavery through various paintings. Robert Duncanson’s painting Uncle Tom and Little Eva, shows the flawed logic of white supremacy. The little girl in the painting is standing while the African American man is sitting under her....   [tags: American Civil War, African American]

Research Papers
1040 words (3 pages)

Uncle Tom 's Cabin Societal Standards Essay examples

- Uncle Tom’s Cabin Societal Standards In 1852, at the time of publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin slavery is in full swing and the dehumanization of African Americans is a daily occurrence. The book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe presents a powerful case against the institution of slavery through the strategic use of moving anecdotes. The author strongly highlights the injustices of slavery and prejudice using the equally powerful effects religion produces in both African Americans and Caucasians....   [tags: Slavery, Slavery in the United States]

Research Papers
1528 words (4.4 pages)

Comparing Olaudah Equiano To Uncle Tom’s Cabin Essay

- Slavery is, and was at the time, the most troubling aspect of the European project in the New World. The conquest and slaughter of the indigenous people was terrible, but not entirely out of step with the war-mongering values of 16th century Europe. But the importation of kidnapped people to create a permanent sub-class of chattel slaves to live and work among the colonists as livestock – that was ethically problematic for many right from the start. From the beginning of the British Colonies in North America through the US Civil War the “peculiar institution”, as it was known, created a moral dissonance for many whites....   [tags: Compare Contrast]

Research Papers
1720 words (4.9 pages)

Uncle Tom 's Cabin, By Harriet Beecher Stowe Essay

- 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. Stowe, who had learned from former and fugitive slaves, wrote her novel about the atrocities they endured. Many say that this controversial novel aided the abolitionist cause and started the American Civil War before it even began....   [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe]

Research Papers
1004 words (2.9 pages)

Essay about Uncle Tom 's Cabin By Harriet Beecher Stowe

- “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]

Research Papers
1046 words (3 pages)

Essay about Uncle Tom 's Cabin, By Harriet Beecher Stowe

- Present in almost every chapter and a reoccurring theme throughout Uncle Tom’s Cabin, religion influences many individual’s thoughts and actions in the nineteenth century, especially on topics involving slavery. Multitudes of slaves were religious, whether educated and converted by their masters or secretly practicing with the risk of being caught and punished, and religion acted as a safe haven for these enslaved individuals, a promise of hope and community in the dark times of slavery. Throughout her influential novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe shows the contrasting roles that religion plays in both the lives of Southerners, such as Augustine St....   [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Slavery]

Research Papers
1011 words (2.9 pages)

Related Searches

Uncle Tom ministers to her and convinces her that there is in fact a God. The scene is quite sensational and touching. Allen is commenting on the beauty of the consolation between both Cassy and Uncle Tom as being the most touching scene in the novel.

 

      The African-American critics also praised the different characterizations in the novel. Gamaliel Bailey, one of these editorialists, writes about the wonderful characterization in the novel in his article in The National Era. ". . . [I]ts characters are strongly drawn, refreshingly peculiar and original, yet wondrously true to nature and to many a reader's experience of life" (Bailey). He specifically comments on the characters of Uncle Tom and Eva. He writes, "There are two characters in this work which will live as long as our literature - - Tom and little Eva - - the ebony statue of Christlike patience - - the rose of love blossoming with immortal sweetness at its base. No human heart can receive these two visitants . . . without taking in with them the . . . Spririt of humanity, and the stern Angel of justice" (Bailey). Allen commends the characterization of the different slaveholders. "What delineations of character - St. Clare and Legree, extremes of slaveholders. While the latter is a fit representative of the system of the pit, the former shows that not even slaveholding itself can blot out every whit of whatsoever is good in the human heart" (Allen).

 

      Some critics discussed the novel as more than a good work but as a work blessed by God. Bailey writes, "The God of Freedom inspired the thought - - the spirit of his love and wisdom guided the pen of the writer, so her words shall sink into the softened and repentant heart of the wrong-doer, and spring up into a harvest of good, for the poor and the oppressed" (Bailey). In a letter to Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass discusses the novel as praised by God. He writes, "I believe you have . . . the higher reward which comes to the soul in the smiles of our merciful Heavenly father, whose ear is ever open to the cries of the oppressed" (Douglass).

 

      Overall, the contemporary, 19th century, African American critics favored the novel even though their numbers were small. The small population of these critics praised the book as almost a breath of fresh air in that a book discussing the horrors and wrongs of slavery had finally surfaced. The contemporary African American critics tended to favor the novel rather than find fault in it.

 

On the other hand, some 19th century African American critics found fault in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. The negative critiques mainly focused on the issue of colonization that is addressed in Volume II, Chapter XLIII of Stowe's novel. The chapter entitled "Results" centers on Eliza and George's escape to Canada in route to Liberia, Africa to colonize and start a new life. Colonization involved African Americans moving out of America back to Africa to a colony named Liberia. This concept was usually discussed as a means for white northerners to rid America of African Americans. However, these whites felt this was not a racist concept. The African American critics who panned Uncle Tom's Cabin had courage in taking a negative approach to a novel that was considered the anti-slavery novel. The debate about colonization was a large enough issue that it would turn out to be the most critiqued of all parts of the novel.

 

      In Provincial Freeman, an African American newspaper, C.V.S. disparages Stowe's portrayal of George Harris, noting that Stowe seems to advocate colonization. "One of the most manly specimens of oppressed human nature, in Uncle Tom's Cabin, is George Harris. The manner in which Mrs. Stowe disposes of him, and the words she puts into his mouth, as reasons for his going to Liberia, always struck us as a piece of needless and hurtful encouragement of the vile spirit of Yankee Colonization"

 

Works Cited and Consulted:

Allen, William G. "Letter to Frederick Douglass." 6 May 1852. Frederick Douglass

Paper. 20 May 1852, unpaged.

Bailey, Gamaliel. "Literary Notices." The National Era. 22 Apr. 1852, unpaged.

Baldwin, James. "Everybody's Protest Novel." The Norton Anthology of African

American Literature. Ed. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Nellie Y. McKay. New

York: Norton, 1997. 1654-59.

C. V. S. "George Harris." Provincial Freeman. 22 Jul. 1854, unpaged.

Douglass, Frederick. "Letter to Mrs. Stowe." 8 Mar. 1853. Frederick Douglass' Paper. 2 Dec. 1853, unpaged.

Ethiop. "Review of Uncle Tom's Cabin." Frederick Douglass' Paper. 17 June 1852,

unpaged.

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. 24 Mar. 2002

< http://www.harrietbeecherstowecenter.org/. >

Levine, Robert S. "Uncle Tom's Cabin in Frederick Douglass' Paper: An Analysis of Reception." Uncle Tom's Cabin: A Norton Critical Edition. Ed. Elizabeth

Ammons. New York: Norton, 1994. 523-542.

Railton, Stephen. Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture: A Multi-Media Archive.

24 Mar. 2002 < http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/utc/. >

 
Return to 123HelpMe.com