Uncle Tom's Cabin

By: Harlee Boyd

Harriet Beecher Stowe

She was one of 13 children born to religious leader Lyman Beecher and his wife, Roxanna Foote Beecher, who died when Harriet was a child. Harriet’s seven brothers grew up to be ministers, including the famous leader Henry Ward Beecher. Her sister Catharine Beecher was an author and a teacher who helped to shape Harriet’s social views. Another sister, Isabella, became a leader of the cause of women’s rights. Harriet enrolled in a school run by Catharine, following the traditional course of classical learning usually reserved for young men. At the age of 21, she moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where her father had become the head of the Lane Theological Seminary. Lyman Beecher took a strong abolitionist stance following the pro-slavery Cincinnati Riots of 1836. His attitude reinforced the abolitionist beliefs of his children, including Stowe. Stowe found like-minded friends in a local literary association called the Semi-Colon Club. Here, she formed a friendship with fellow member and seminary teacher Calvin Ellis Stowe. They were married on January 6, 1836, and eventually moved to a cottage near in Brunswick, Maine, close to Bowdoin College. Along with their interest in literature, Harriet and Calvin Stowe shared a strong belief in abolition. In 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law, prompting distress and distress in abolitionist and free black communities of the North. Stowe decided to express her feelings through a literary representation of slavery, basing her work on the life of Josiah Henson and on her own observations. In 1851, the first installment of Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, appeared in the National Era. Uncle Tom's Cabin was published as a book the following year and quickly became a bestseller. Stowe’s emotional portrayal of the impact of slavery, particularly on families and children, captured the nation's attention. Embraced in the North, the book and its author aroused hostility in the South. Enthusiasts staged theatrical performances based on the story, with the characters of Tom, Eva and Topsy achieving iconic status. After the Civil War began, Stowe traveled to Washington, D.C., where she met with Abraham Lincoln. A possibly apocryphal but popular story credits Lincoln with the greeting, “So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.” While little is known about the meeting, the persistence of this story captures the perceived significance of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in the split between North and South.

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin is about a kindly enslaved African American named Tom. He was taken from his wife and sold down the river in Louisiana. Tom becomes the slave of the cruel Simon Legree. In rage, Legree has Tom beaten to death.


The Price to the book Uncle Tom's Cabin is $14. It is sold at the book signing, so if you don't have a book and you want to get a signature, bring your money. It will go by fast, so get there first.

Book Signing

Thursday, June 25th, 6-10pm

21390 Missouri 32

Ste. Genevieve, MO

The book signing will be held at the Community Center's Gym. She will be at the back of the gym and there will be a long path to get to her, so come prepared.

Fugitive Slave Act and Slavery.

Stowe and other abolitionists were greatly angered by the Fugitive Slave Act. This act is what made her write her book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, that would educate people about the realities of slavery.


"And now," said Legree, "come here, you Tom. You see, I telled ye I didn't buy ye jest for the common work; I mean to promote ye, and make a driver of ye; and to-night ye may jest as well begin to get yer hand in. Now, ye jest take this yer gal and flog her; ye've seen enough on't to know how." I beg Mas'r's pardon," said Tom; "hopes Mas'r won't set me at that. It's what I an't used to, -- never did, -- and can't do, no way possible." "Ye'll larn a pretty smart chance of things ye never did know, before I've done with ye!" said Legree, taking up a cowhide, and striking Tom a heavy blow cross the cheek, and following up the infliction by a shower of blows. "There!" he said, as he stopped to rest; "now, will ye tell me ye can't do it?" "Yes, Mas'r," said Tom, putting up his hand, to wipe the blood, that trickled down his face. "I'm willin' to work, night and day, and work while there's life and breath in me; but this yer thing I can't feel it right to do; -- and, Mas'r, I never shall do it, -- never!" Tom had a remarkably smooth, soft voice, and a habitually respectful manner, that had given Legree an idea that he would be cowardly, and easily subdued. When he spoke these last words, a thrill of amazement went through every one; the poor woman clasped her hands, and said, "O Lord!" and every one involuntarily looked at each other and drew in their breath, as if to prepare for the storm that was about to burst. Legree looked stupefied and confounded; but at last burst forth, -- "What! ye blasted black beast! tell me ye don't think it right to do what I tell ye! What have any of you cussed cattle to do with thinking what's right? I'll put a stop to it! Why, what do ye think ye are? May be ye think ye'r a gentleman master, Tom, to be a telling your master what's right, and what ain't! So you pretend it's wrong to flog the gal!" "I think so, Mas'r," said Tom; "the poor crittur's sick and feeble; 't would be downright cruel, and it's what I never will do, nor begin to. Mas'r, if you mean to kill me, kill me; but, as to my raising my hand agin any one here, I never shall, -- I'll die first!" Tom spoke in a mild voice, but with a decision that could not be mistaken. Legree shook with anger; his greenish eyes glared fiercely, and his very whiskers seemed to curl with passion; but, like some ferocious beast, that plays with its victim before he devours it, he kept back his strong impulse to proceed to immediate violence, and broke out into bitter raillery. "Well, here's a pious dog, at last, let down among us sinners! -- a saint, a gentleman, and no less, to talk to us sinners about our sins! Powerful holy critter, he must be! Here, you rascal, you make believe to be so pious, -- didn't you never hear, out of yer Bible, 'Servants, obey yer masters'? An't I yer master? Didn't I pay down twelve hundred dollars, cash, for all there is inside yer old cussed black shell? An't yer mine, now, body and soul?" he said, giving Tom a violent kick with his heavy boot; "tell me!" In the very depth of physical suffering, bowed by brutal oppression, this question shot a gleam of joy and triumph through Tom's soul. He suddenly stretched himself up, and, looking earnestly to heaven, while the tears and blood that flowed down his face mingled, he exclaimed, "No! no! no! my soul an't yours, Mas'r! You haven't bought it, -- ye can't buy it! It's been bought and paid for, by one that is able to keep it; -- no matter, no matter, you can't harm me!" "I can't!" said Legree, with a sneer; "we'll see, -- we'll see! Here, Sambo, Quimbo, give this dog such a breakin' in as he won't get over, this month!" The two gigantic negroes that now laid hold of Tom, with fiendish exultation in their faces, might have formed no unapt personification of powers of darkness. The poor woman screamed with apprehension, and all rose, as by a general impulse, while they dragged him unresisting from the place.
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