Saturday, June 14, 2014
JUNE 14 = Harriet Beecher Stowe is Born
"The scenes of this story, as its title indicates, lie among a race hitherto ignored by the associations of polite and refined society; an exotic race, whose ancestors, born beneath a tropic sun, brought with them, and perpetuated to their descendants, a character so unlike the hard and dominant Anglo-Saxon race, as for many years to have won from it only misunderstanding and contempt.
But another and better day is dawning; every influence of literature, poetry, and of art, in our times, is becoming more and more in unison with the great master chord of Christianity, 'good will to man.'
The hand of benevolence is everywhere stretched out, searching into abuses, righting wrongs, alleviating distresses, and bringing to the knowledge and sympathies of the world the lowly, the oppressed and the forgotten.
But the heart of the dominant race, who have been her conquerors, her hard masters, has at length been turned towards her in mercy; and it has been seen how far nobler it is in nations to protect the feeble than to oppress them. Thanks be to God, the world has at last outlived the slave trade!"
So wrote Harriet Beecher Stowe in the preface to her novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin or Life Among the Lowly" published in 1852. Mrs. Stowe was born on today's date, June 14 in 1811. Her novel about the horrors and degradation of slavery galvanized public opinion in America against the institution, and in part lead to a gradual erosion of public willingness in the north to accept the further extension and existence of slavery. And this ultimately resulted in the outbreak of Civil War in 1861.
Harriet's Anti-Slavery Upbringing
. The sev- enth of thirteen children, her father was the outspoken religious leader Lyman Beecher and her mother was Roxana Foote, a very religious woman who died when Stowe was only five years old. Harriet was taught in a girls' school, run by her sister Catharine, wherein she studied what were then considered "male subjects" such as mathematics, languages and and the classics of literature. When she was 21, she moved to Cincinnati, Ohio joining her father, who had been appointed as the first president of Lane Theological Seminary, a school for Presbyterian Ministers (their Cincinnati home, a museum today, is pictured above). Harriet's father was strongly opposed to slavery, and delivered fiery sermons against it. But he was not an straightforward abolitionist. He favored a more "pragmatic" approach to the slavery issue in hopes of gaining mainstream support for its eventual abolition. Towards this end Lyman Beecher supported "colonization" , which was the idea of sending freed slaves back to Africa to colonize the country of Liberia. The Lane Seminary became a primary debating ground in the growing dispute between those who favored immediate and total abolition of slavery, and those who favored other, less immediate solutions to the issue which was then tearing the United States apart.
Harriet Becomes Actively Anti-Slavery
Harriet Writes "Uncle Tom's Cabin" .... a Best Seller!!
Stowe's Novel Changes the Equation
“Into the emotion-charged atmosphere of mid-nineteenth-century America Uncle Tom’s Cabin exploded like a bombshell…the social impact of Uncle Tom’s Cabin on the United States was greater than that of any book before or since.”
— Printing and the Mind of Man, Edited by John Carter & Peter H. Muir .
by Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852.