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Harriet Beecher Stowe

The Impact of Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin

By Stacy Conley

Middle School Bible Study, Math 8/7, Classical Composition/Literature.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, was first published on March 20, 1852. It was the first American novel to sell more than a million copies, and no book of any kind, except for the Bible, has sold so well.

What about this book that made it so popular? Mrs. Stowe wrote about humanity and true

Christianity and of her own life experiences. Having lived in Ohio just across the river from

Kentucky from where slaves escaped, she learned of the conditions faced by enslaved African Americans.

In addition, the year before she started writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet’s 18-month-old son died. The tragedy helped her understand the heartbreak that slave mothers suffered when their children were wrenched from their arms and sold. She wrote: "Having experienced losing someone so close to me, I can sympathize with all the poor, powerless slaves at the unjust auctions.”

Northerners who wanted to abolish slavery embraced this book whole-heartedly, while at the

same time, it was furiously denounced by leading figures in the Southern states that very much supported and benefitted from slavery.

Ten years after publishing Uncle Tom’s Cabin—and just after the Emancipation Proclamation

had been announced but before it fully released the slaves—Mrs. Stowe was invited to the White House to have tea with President Abraham Lincoln and his wife. It is rumored that upon meeting the famous author President Lincoln said to her, referring to the Civil War, “So you’re the little woman who started this great war!”

While Harriet Beecher Stowe was not the cause of the Civil War, she made her intention clear: to awaken “sympathy and feeling for the African race."


As people who seek caritasveritas, and actio, we too seek to understand the feelings of those around us and to use our God-given abilities and experiences to bless others.


This historical thought was delivered by our middle school students at devotional on 3/21/24. Each week one class leads the student body in prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, scripture recitation, a meditation, and an historical thought. Family and friends are welcome, Thursdays 8:30-9:05 am.

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