Abolitionist Literature

Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, & Harriet Jacobs

Harriet Beecher Stowe & Uncle Tom's Cabin

Harriet Beecher Stowe was a social activist and author best known for her anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Stowe was born on June 14, 1811 in Litchfield, Connecticut. Although Stowe had seven brothers who grew up to be ministers, her sister Catharine Beecher was an author and teacher to helped to shape Harriet’s social views. At age 21, after years of schooling, Harriet moved to Ohio. Her involvement in the abolitionist movement was sparked by the pro-slavery Cincinnati Riots of 1836. She took a strong abolitionist stance because her father did after this event; his beliefs reinforced those of his children. Harriet then met her husband in Ohio and moved to Brunswick, Maine with him. The couple shared a strong belief in abolition. After Congress passed the Fugitive Slave law in 1850, Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a literary representation of slavery based on the life of Josiah Henson. In her later life, Stowe continued to write about and be involved in social and political issues. She was respected and very well-known in the North for this, and was often asked to give her opinion on political issue of that time. Harriet Beecher Stowe died on July 1, 1896 in Hartford, Connecticut.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe advocates for the emancipation of slaves and freedom for all. The novel was published after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 as an attack on the law and the institution it protected. The book centers around the character Uncle Tom, an African American slave. He is sold into the slave trade, and the novel follows his journey along with another slave, Harry. Uncle Tom’s Cabin shows the stark reality of slavery and the brutality of the institution, and this story touched millions. The novel generated much controversy, as it was praised and embraced in the North while the South only showed anger and hostility. The publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a cause of the Civil War.

Upon its publication in 1852, Uncle Tom’s Cabin contributed to an ever-growing controversy amongst American citizens. The concept of slavery was difficult to understand for many, as it encompassed serious topics such as equality (or the lack thereof), human rights, and even physical violence. Beecher Stowe made the concept of slavery more accessible to the public by using language that was easy to comprehend, as well as relatable characters that appealed to the audience’s ethos and emotions.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

123 Address St

Cedar Hill, Anacostia, Washington, D.C


  • Early life as slave in Wye House plantation, Talbot County. Taught to read by plantation owners wife. Starts to lean towards abolitionist movement.

  • Escaped slavery and married. Faced discrimination while trying to find work.

  • Published a narrative on his slave life. Did talks of anti-slavery in Europe. Europeans raised money and officially bought him out of slavery.

  • Part of Underground railroad; Sheltered slaves escape slavery.

  • Fights for Women's as well as slaves rights. Met with Susan B. Anthony

  • Has various newspaper businesses. “Douglass' Monthly” ,“Frederick Douglass' Paper”,”Frederick Douglass' Paper”

  • Recruited soldiers to fight in the Union during civil war. Talked to president about poor treatment and pay that black soldiers receive.

  • Fights for women's rights after slavery is abolished.

  • Became U.S. marshal of the district of Columbia. Removed from position for being too for Haitian interests.

  • Published another newspaper and became president of a bank which both failed

  • Bought an estate and lived there for the rest of his life with family, still speaking for Women’s rights


  • Well Spoken

  • Civil Rights leader

  • Business Owner

Slave Narrative

Harriet Ann Jacobs was born in 1813 in North Carolina to two well off parents that were able to support themselves without slavery. After the death of both of her parents, Harriet started working for two cruel masters, the woman was extremely jealous, and the man pressured her into sexual relations with him. In order to flee them, Harriet has two children with another plantation owner in hopes of being transferred to his plantation:however, Her owner, Dr. Norcom, forced her into ever harsher slave labor. Harriet went into hiding and eventually escaped to New York with her two children where she worked as a domestic servant. Harriet published her story in hopes of raising awareness for the anti slavery movement. Harriet also did relief work for black troops, ran a boarding house and went to many conventions promoting abolition until she died in Cambridge in 1897.

Harriet published her book Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl under the pen name Linda Brent, she also changed all of the names of people involved in her story. When she was born she lived with her brother and two parents in a happy home. After her mother died she went to work under her mother’s master who was very kind and taught her to read and write. Soon her father and mother’s master died, so Harriet and her brother went to work under their cruel new masters who were very abusive. Her male master constantly pressured her into sex and she became desperate for escape. She later had two children with a neighboring plantation owner in hopes of being released to his plantation. Her masters punished her by making her work even harder and told her that her children would probably wind up being forced to do the same work. Trying to keep her children from a life of slavery, Lisa went into hiding in her Aunt’s house where she was confined to a small closet. Lisa stayed in the closet for seven years and she became weaker by the day, her only joy came to her by watching her children grow up. She waited for an opportunity to present itself for her to escape, but her old owners continued to pursue her. Finally she and her two children escaped with her brother to New York where they found work as domestic laborers. Her old owners pursued her under the fugitive slave law but her new owner paid for her freedom.

Harriet’s story is similar to many others but due to her education she was able to share hers with the world

Harriet was inspired by her parents who were able to support their family without slavery. She mentions in her narrative how she hopes to one day be able to do the same for her children.

Harriett's story was written to inspire others to work on the antislavery movement. Her story was for the freed slaves and abolitionists so that everyone could understand the horrors of slavery and why it needed to be ended. Harriet's story was very similar to that of many other slaves except she could read and write making her able to tell her story , and bring justice to herself and all other slaves who had experienced similar things.


Although abolitionist literature is often overlooked as a catalyst of the Civil War, its effect on American society is evident. Various authors, including Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Harriet Ann Jacobs published works in the 19th century that utilised emotional appeal to spark the attention of the American public. Douglass portrayed his experience as a former slave through powerful oration, targeted towards the liberty-loving American citizens. In her novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Beecher Stowe addressed the controversial topic of slavery with informal language and relatable characters, thus making the issue easier to grasp. Finally, Jacobs provided a realistic depiction of slave life in her narrative, Life of a Slave Girl, which led to a widespread realization of the inequities of slavery. These three works in particular continue to influence the values of the American people, even in the modern day.