Harriet Beecher Stowe

By: Katie Lederhaus

Early Life

Harriet Elizabeth Beecher was born on June 14, 1811 in Litchfield, Connecticut. She was one of eight children born to Lyman and Roxanna Beecher. Harriet's mother, Roxanna, died when Harriet was five years old. Her oldest daughter, Catharine, took her place in a way, and became the mother figure of the household. Then, Lyman re-married to Harriet Porter Beecher who already had three children. The Beechers expected their children to make a difference in the world and have meaning in their life. They definitely succeeded. Seven of their sons became ministers, Catharine encouraged women's education be opening a school, Isabella founded the National Women's Suffrage Association, and Harriet was a writer and abolitionist.


Stowe first went to school at Sarah Pierce's Litchfield Female Academy, where, when she was seven, won a school essay contest. Then, she attended Hartford Female Seminary, which was founded by her sister, Catharine. Harriet later became a teacher at this school. Here, she was able to extend her writing abilities through essays and oral presentations.

Marriage and Children

When Harriet was 21 in 1832, her family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. There, she met Calvin Stowe. They later got married and had seven children. In 1849, their 18 month old son, Samuel Charles Stowe, got sick with Cholera and died. Harriet said she had felt such a pain during this time that helped her understand how slave mothers being separated from their children felt. This understanding helped her write her most famous book, Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Writing Career

Harriet liked to write because it allowed her to voice her thoughts and feelings in a way that most women from the 19th century couldn't. Her writing career began before she was married and continued through old age. Harriet was able to make a living off of writing for her family

Her books include:

  • Primary Geography for Children (1833)
  • New England Sketches (1835)
  • The Mayflower (1843)
  • The Coral Ring (1843)
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852)
  • Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin (1853)
  • Dred (1856)
  • The Minister's Wooing (1859)
  • The Pearl of Orr's Island (1861)
  • Lady Byron Vindicated (1870)
  • Palmetto Leaves (1873)
  • numerous short stories, poems, and newspaper articles

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin is Harriet Beecher Stowes most famous book. It caused major effects on the United States and sold over 300,000 copies in its first year. The views of slavery in the book caused tension in the south and they viewed the book as "sectional propaganda". The north loved and embraced the book. In fact, when Harriet went to meet president Abraham Lincoln, he said "So you are the woman who wrote the book that started this great war." That statement implies that Lincoln gave Harriet some of the credit for starting the Civil War.

Later Life

In Harriet's later years, she and her family bought a winter home in Mandarin, Florida. They stayed there during winter, and in Hartford, Connecticut during the rest of the year. Her stays in Florida inspired her book Palmetto Leaves. Stowe died in Hartford on July first, 1986. Below is a picture of Harriet in her later years.
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My Reaction

I respect Harriet for voicing her opinions so strongly through writing and showing that women can make just as much of a difference as men. I wonder what she said when Abraham Lincoln said she started the Civil War. I would have been a little freaked out. I also respect her for persevering through losing her mother when she was five and also losing her child. I admire her for using that pain to help her write Uncle Tom's Cabin and not letting it put her life on hold. I think she made her parents proud and met their expectation of making a difference in the world.


"Harriet Beecher Stowe: 1811-1896." Harriet Beecher Stowe. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.

"Harriet Beecher Stowe American Civil War Women Author." Harriet Beecher Stowe American Civil War Women Author. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2015.

"Harriet Beecher Stowe." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, 2015. Web. 14 Mar. 2015.

"Harriet Beecher Stowe." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.

"Harriet Beecher Stowe's Life." Harriet Beecher Stowe's Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2015.


Harriet Beecher Stowe, as a young woman, engraving, 1858. Digital image.House Divided. Dickinson College, 25 Sept. 2007. Web. 14 Mar. 2015.

Harriet Beecher Stowe. Digital image. AmericanCivilWar.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

Picture of the Beecher family. Digital image. The Beecher Tradition. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

Violets in watercolor by stowe. Digital image. Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. N.p., 2011. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.