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Books

Abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe & Her Uncle Tom’s Cabin

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

Harriet Beecher Stowe was born June 14, 1811, in Litchfield, Connecticut– nothing short of a free state. She was one of thirteen children born to a religious leader, Lyman Beecher; however, her mother died when she Harriet was a child. Growing up, her father had always reinforced abolitionist beliefs- later igniting Stowe ́s desire to open up the minds of Northerners.

The Beechers had expected their children to shape the world around them:

  • All seven sons became ministers;
  • Catharine, the oldest daughter, made women education more accessible;
  • Their youngest daughter, Isabella was a founder of the Women’s Suffrage Association;
  • Harriet exposed the truth about the greatest social injustice of her day, human slavery;

As a young girl Harriet and her family would often have dynamic debates at the dinner table; discussing current events and social issues- this allowed Harriet to become an effective and persuasive arguer. She later attended school at Sarah Pierce ́s Academy, one of the earliest institutions for girls. As for college, Harriet was first a student, then a teacher at Hartford Female Seminary- which had been founded by her older sister.

In 1832, Harriet and her family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio when her father had been appointed President of Lane Theological Seminary. It was soon after that Stowe published her most her most famous piece of work, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written in 1850 and expressed ideals through the eyes of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Within the book itself, Stowe ́s message is clear; slavery was fundamentally evil, corrupting everyone it touched and destroying the lives of good men and women. Through eye-opening, Uncle Tom’s Cabin also increased tension between the North and South. As for the North people, they faced realization and figured out how unjust slavery was for the first time. With more opposition of slavery, southern slave owners had to work even harder to defend the institution. Which in part signifies the importance of a new state and whether or not it would be free or slave-ran.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin contributed to more than conflict; it gave Northerners a purpose. I think that disagreements and possibly the Civil War were inevitable. The United States consisted of people who may have had the same intention of a new life but different game plans. Everyone was bound to have opposing opinions, and whether it be slavery, religion, or culture people were predetermined to butt heads.

Even though Harriet never directly mentioned how she felt about The Constitution’s authority I could guess that she would want more power in the hands of the people– if it meant increased women’s suffrage. Stowe ́s younger sister was a co-founder of the Women’s Suffrage Association, so it is only right to assume that she supported her younger sister; not to mention that she also attended and taught at one of the first institutions for girls´. Plus Harriet herself was a woman, and I’m sure that she would want suffrage for herself, imagine how much more recognition or power she would have had if men weren’t always superior.

Not only did Harriet Beecher Stowe support women’s suffrage, but she also strongly opposed slavery– as previously mentioned. Since she wanted to obliterate slavery and give African Americans a chance at humanity; wouldn´t she also want to give them suffrage? Didn ́t Stowe want equality for everyone? If I took a step back to think like Harriet Beecher Stowe– white men making every decision for the union is not equality. As far as State to Constitution I ́m not sure how Stowe would feel, I guess whatever gave the most power to the people– given that she is a major abolitionist that agrees with increased women’s suffrage. She wanted equality, as did many other people who had not yet found their public voice. By having the nerve, and a driven interest– Stowe allowed people to feel like they could collectively oppose slavery, and they were finally able to make a statement. They wanted southerners to know that they would continue to power towards the eradication of slavery.

In 1862, Harriet Beecher Stowe met with Abraham Lincoln at the White House towards the beginning of the Civil War. Historians only know this because they each kept a brief entry in their journal, but they can assume that it has something to do with Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was written ten years previously. Lincoln presumably thinks it had an impact which to an extent helped ignite the Civil War.

Stowe was best known for her appeals toward slavery– a major abolitionist. Although we were asked to provide views on multiple topics, I am having a hard time making guesses based on what I already know. As dry as it sounds, Harriet Beecher Stowe was strictly known for her strong abolitionist views and how she exposed them to the union– creating a sense of urgency or purpose for the North.

Throughout history, it’s clear that Stowe had a major push which eventually became a boiling point. I knew that there were abolitionists, but I always thought that Lincoln was the only reason slavery ended; I guess I never took the time to care. Now that I know, I actually think that Harriet Beecher Stowe and other abolitionists deserve more credit. The difference is that they didn’t have the same power, they weren’t the president. Especially with the lack of women’s suffrage, and the failure to treat everyone with humanity. 

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