Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe(June 14, 1811- July1, 1896) was an abolitionist and author, who was the first author in America to have a book with the distinction of the international bestseller. She grew up in a huge family with thirteen siblings, who all grew up to be either ministers, reformers, teachers, and authors who were well known at their time. Harriet had a husband named Calvin Stowe, who was a seminary teacher and shared her stance on abolition. They got married on January 6, 1836 and had seven children together. When she was growing up, she received formal education at Sarah Pierces Litchfield Female Academy. At the age of 21, she moved with her father and sister named Catherine to Cincinnati. Her sister was an author and teacher, who helped shape Harriet’s social views. When she moved to Cincinnati, she found her writing voice, as she was exposed to the cruelty of slavery first hand. This was because slavery was a major issue in Cincinnati. She heard stories from ex-slaves about their times as slaves, and it influenced her greatly. She didn’t approve of slavery, and she started writing to help end it. In 1830 Congress passed the fugitive slave law, which was a law that stated that any slave master could recapture their runaway slaves and required slaves are returned no matter where they were. This act by Congress gave Harriet the final push and ignited a fire in Harriet prompting her to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin which was published on March 20, 1852. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was an emotional literary depiction of the impact of slavery exploring family, home, religion, and justice. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the first novel in American history to capture an African American as the protagonist. It sold faster than any book out the gate, and in the 19th century only the bible sold more books then it. Uncle Tom’s Cabin changed the course of history and helped shift the public view on slavery. Harriet Beecher Stowe was influenced by numerous things when writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The community in which she lived in, her personal opinions, her family background, her religious beliefs, and her education all influenced Stowe’s desire to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She also did much more research, even contacting Frederick Douglass to ask to be put in touch with ex-slaves who could ensure the accuracy of her story. She used these influences and based Uncle Tom’s Cabin off of them. For example, certain characters and events in uncle tom’s cabin was based on Stowe’s life and things she learned. Additionally, the life of Josiah Henson, who was her friend was partially based off of uncle tom. Her daughter that died was based off of Eva. Lastly, Harriet wrote this book because she wanted to portray the very worst aspects of slavery. Also to rouse the publics support on the abolition movement. Harriet Beecher Stowe gained many achievements in her lifetime. Another reason was as she stated in a 1853 letter “I wrote what I did because as a women, as a mother, I was oppressed and broken-hearted with the sorrows and injustices I saw… It is no merit in the sorrowful that they weep… not to me, that I must speak for the oppressed- who cannot speak for themselves.” Throughout Harriet Stowe’s lifetime she achieved many things. For example, she met Abraham Lincoln in 1862, and he said to her ” So you’re the little women who wrote a book that made this great war.” She published over 30 books in her lifetime. Some of her most famous works were a tale of the great dismal swamp(1856), the real reality of orss island: A story of the coast of main(1862), and the ministers wooling(1854). Lastly, in 1846 she was put in the national women’s hall of fame.
All three of Uncle Tom’s slave owners are similar in fact that they all put their own needs before others, but are all different in several ways. For example, Tom’s first master named Mr. Shelby who owns an estate in Kentucky. He’s a fair average man, good natured, and kind. Slaves feel fortunate to be owned by Mr. Shelby, and especially to have his kind wife Mrs. Shelby. Mrs. Shelby is extremely nice to slaves, very religious, and and eventually comes to believe that slavery is a grave sin. Mr. and Mrs. Shelby both cared for Tom greatly. Tom is a faithful, honest, respectful, and deeply religious man. Many slaves looked up to him for example, ” Uncle Tom was a sort of patriarch in religious matters, in the neighborhood, he was looked up to with great respect, as a sort of minister among them.” (Stowe 19). Mr. and Mrs. Shelby both care about Tom greatly, and trust him. Due to his hard work and other of his great aspects his is one of the most valuable slaves on Mr. Shelby’s farm. Tom was allowed to marry, and live with his wife named Aunt Chloe and his two children in a cabin on the farm. Living in a cabin with his family was a big deal, because it symbolized a little bit of a normal life. Although Mr. Shelby treats his slaves well, he is careless and selfish. Even a good slaver owner who treats his slaves humanely isn’t a part from owning slaves. Mr. Shelby was willing to alter Tom’s life and separate him from his family in order to maintain his financial security. He breaks up slave families for his own gain just like any other slave owner. Mr. Shelby is careless with his money and gets into debt. As a result to save his farm he must sell both Tom and Eliza’s four year old son named Harry. He did this after he promised not only to not sell tom, but the rest of the slaves he owns if they behave well also. Mr. Shelby had even talked to tom hundreds of times with Mrs. Shelby about his freedom. Mr. Shelby is not willing to sacrifice his own pleasures for slaves. While on the other hand his wife is willing to go without luxuries to keep Tom and Harry. Mr. Shelby considers himself better then Haley, and other slave owners, but he doesn’t full acknowledge the fact that by trading with Haley it implicates him in the entire slave trade system. Even after all this is happening to Tom he accepts his fate to save the other slaves. For they all would’ve had to be sold if he didn’t. In the end, Mr. Shelby is not a terrible person; but sees slaves less than him. He’s a typical person who isn’t deliberately cruel to his slaves, but us also not willing to sacrifice anything.
The best of Uncle Tom’s owners was his second owner named Augustine St. Claire. Augustine St. Claire is a Louisiana gentlemen with an aristocratic heritage. He’s a kind man who treats his slaves well like Mr. Shelby. He’s better then Mr. Shelby, because he sees the wrong in slavery system and hates it. Slavery frustrated him so much that he left the plantation life. St. Claire still fails to do anything about it. Tom was sold to Augustine St. Claire by Haley after Tom jumped off of a boat to save Augustine St. Claire’s daughter named Eva. Eva begged her dad to buy Tom no matter what the cost, and Augustine St. Claire listened to her and bought him. Eva was named of Augustine St. Claire’s mother and is between five and six years old. She was kind and compassionate. Her and Augustine St. Claire both hated slavery unlike Marrie St. Claire. Although Marrie St. Claire was a fine figure and a pair of splendid eyes. She was cruel, vain, selfish, and possessive. After Eva’s birth her health sunk, and suffered from hundred of imagined illnesses. Due to this she constantly complains and is confined to her bed for typically three out of six days. St. Claire’s views shift after Eva is lying on her death bed. He promised her to free tom and to devote his life to exhorting others against slavery. After Eva died of natural causes Augustine St. Claire keeps his word and starts the process of freeing Tom. When Augustine St. Claire tells Tom his plans for freeing him Tom is ecstatic. For example, ” The sudden light of joy that showed in Tom’s face as he raised his hands to heaven, his emphatic “Bless The Lord”(Stowe 182). Unfortunately after Augustine St. Claire tries too break up a fight between two men he is stabbed in the side by a bowie knife and dies days later before he could free Tom. When he is dying the slaves in the household are sad and also begin to panic, because they know they are know left with his evil wife. Unlike the slaves Tom is at peace, because he feels like Augustine St. Claire is going to heaven. He still realizes after Adolph told him that all the slaves are too be sold that he is still left in slavery, because Augustine St. Claire didn’t finish the process to free Tom. Tom had nothing left to do but beg, so he asked Miss Ophelia to talk to Marie St. Claire on his behalf. She tried to appeal to Marie’s emotions and talks about how it was Eva’s dying wish and to honor Augustine St. Claire’s promise, but Marie St. Claire refuses. Marie St. Claire says ” Tom is one of the most valuable servants on the place,- it couldn’t be afforded, anyway. Besides what does he want of liberty? He’s a great deal better off.” (Stowe 193). When Tom learned that Miss Ophelia’s attempt to have him free failed his heart sunk. For instance, “Tom turned away; his heart was full. The hope of liberty, the thought of a distant wife and children,… only for one last farewell.” ( Stowe 192). The next day all the Augustine St. Claire’s slaves were taken to a slave warehouse near new Orleans to be sold. The slaves were then led by Mr. Keggs the keeper of the depot to wait for the auction.