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Harriet Beecher Stowe (Roark, 2002)

Textbook

James L. Roark, et al., eds., The American Promise: A History of the United States, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2002), 460-462.

Responses to Uncle Tom's Cabin depended on geography. In the North, common people and literary giants alike shed tears and sang its praises. The poet John Greenleaf Whitier sent "ten thousand thanks for thy immortal book," and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow judged it "one of the greatest triumphs recorded in literary history." What Northerners accepted as truth, Southerners denounced as slander. Virginian George F. Holmes proclaimed Stowe a member of the "Woman's Rights" and "Higher Law" schools and dismissed the novel as a work of "intense fanaticism," Unfortunately, he said, this "maze of interpretation" had filled those who knew nothing about slavery "with hatred for that institution and those who uphold it."...As Legree's [a slave-owning character] northern origins suggest, the novel did not indict just the South. Stowe rebuked the entire nation for tolerating slavery. Although it is impossible to measure precisely the impact of a novel on public opinion, Uncle Tom's Cabin clearly helped to crystallize northern sentiment against slavery and to confirm white Southerner's suspicion that they no longer had any sympathy in the free states...  A decade after its publication, when Stowe visited Abraham Lincoln at the White House, he reportedly said, "So you are the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war."
How to Cite This Page: "Harriet Beecher Stowe (Roark, 2002)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/17145.