180 Introduction (2016)

Kateri Bean, Alexandria Dicentes, Isabelle Elsasser, Meredith Ryan

Published in 1852, Uncle Tom’s Cabin has well withstood the test of time and remained one of the more influential pieces of American Literature. It is an important text because it shined a spotlight upon the tragedy of slavery in The United States and by doing so it opened eyes to the horrors, hearts to the humanity and minds to equality, thus helping bring an end to slavery. The book Uncle Tom’s Cabin has helped countless people either gain or give freedom. Another remarkable thing about this text is the fact that it was written by a woman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, the daughter of a beloved abolitionist pastor from Connecticut.

Harriet Beecher Stowe was born on June 14th, 1811, into a family that was committed to social justice- eventually leading her to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Her family was extremely religious, with her father being a Congregationalist minister and later her brothers becoming ministers too. Her background, especially her father’s influence, is what inspired her to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Stowe’s feelings towards slavery sent her on the road to find people that shared her same thoughts; which is how she met her husband, Calvin Ellis Stowe (Biography.com).

With both her husband and family having the same feelings about equality, Harriet Beecher Stowe became invested in abolitionist movement to end of slavery. She expressed her feelings in her writing and even met with Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is allegedly quoted greeting Stowe by saying, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!” (The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center). Uncle Tom’s Cabin depicted the split between the North and South and included characters that became iconic to the movement. Stowe also wrote Oldtown Folks and Dred, along with other stories, essays, and novels. She tended to be asked to weigh in on politics and religious issues because she was credible and had opinions that people wanted to hear.

Harriet Beecher Stowe introduced a new way of looking at slavery for the United States of America. In 1850 the Fugitive Slave Law was passed by the Congress and the law started to anger people. This law allowed “anyone to be taken from the street” and be “accused of being a fugitive from slavery” causing free black and anti-slavery groups to argue that “the system bribed commissioners to send kidnapped people into slavery” (The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center). A year later Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published to argue with this law in the newspaper The National Era. By the year 1852, Stowe’s story was published into two volumes. While the novel still included some racism and sexism, it still marked one of the first major novels by an abolitionist that would forever change the views of the act of slavery. Without the Fugitive Slave Law being passed Stowe’s novel would have not been such a big success. Because of her great success of Uncle Tom’s Cabin she continued writing about slavery and revolutionized the way people reacted to slavery in the 1800s.

Works Cited

“Impact of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Slavery, and the Civil War.”Harrietbeecherstowecenter.org. The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

Editors, Biography.com. “Harriet Beecher Stowe Biography.” The Biography.com Website. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, 2015. Web. 31 Oct. 2016.


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The Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature: A PSU-Based Project Copyright © 2016 by Kateri Bean, Alexandria Dicentes, Isabelle Elsasser, Meredith Ryan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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