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Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin (American National Biography)

Scholarship

Joan D. Hedrick, "Stowe, Harriet Beecher," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/16/16-01582.html.

The success of Uncle Tom's Cabin made Stowe an international celebrity and a focus of antislavery sentiment. In 1853 she published A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, an antislavery polemic written to answer critics who complained that her novel had exaggerated the brutalities of slavery. At the invitation of two Scottish antislavery societies she undertook a tour of the British Isles. As she recounted in Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands (1854), she was met by large crowds, feted at antislavery soirees, showered with money for the cause, and presented with a petition from more than half a million British women urging their American sisters to end slavery. She used money given her to free slaves, distribute antislavery literature, and support antislavery lectures, but her most powerful antislavery weapon remained her pen. In 1854, when Congress was debating the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Stowe published in the Independent "An Appeal to Women of the Free States of America, on the Present Crisis on Our Country" and circulated petitions to defeat the bill. When it passed, opening the possibility of slavery in the new territories, Stowe wrote her second antislavery novel, Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp (1856). In contrast to the Christian pacifism of Tom in Uncle Tom's Cabin, her hero Dred is presented as the son of Denmark Vesey, the historical figure hanged in South Carolina for fomenting rebellion among the slaves.
How to Cite This Page: "Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin (American National Biography)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/18440.