Wednesday, March 20, 2013
March 20 - Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly, was published in book form on March 20, 1852. It had first appeared as a 40-week serial in an abolitionist periodical. Stowe wrote the book in response to the enactment of the second Fugitive Slave Act (the "Bloodhound Law," 1850), which declared that runaway slaves were to be returned to their masters. She was also partly inspired by an 1849 slave narrative by Josiah Henson. The sentimental, melodramatic novel focuses on Uncle Tom, a long-suffering black slave, around whom other stories are told. Simon Legree is a cruel slave owner who seeks to demoralize Tom but fails to break his religious faith. He then orders Tom’s death. The book was the 19th century’s best-selling novel in the United States, and although it popularized negative stereotypes of black people, it fueled the abolitionist cause that led to the Civil War.