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Filing Cabinet - Underground Railroad

Uncle Tom's Cabin

By Harriet Beacher Stowe

Uncle Tom's Cabin CoverUncle Tom’s Cabin, also called Life Among the Lowly, was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe and first appeared in serial editions in the The National Era in 1851-1852.  When it was released in book form in 1852, it sold a surprising 300,000 copies in the United States in its first year.  It quickly became the best selling novel of the 19th century.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, herself an abolitionist, hoped the telling of the story of the cruelty of slavery would make a difference.  Surely, she could not have imagined the impact this story would have.  Although there is no documentation to support this, according to legend, when Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe he said, "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this Great War!"  

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a powerful tool in the hands of abolitionists to urge the end of slavery.  As copies continued to sell into the millions, more people were exposed to the power of the narrative to bring to life the conditions of slavery and reveal the humanity of the ones enslaved.

The powerful telling of Eliza’s daring escape across the ice with a baby in her arms came as a result of the author pondering what a mother would be willing to do to rescue her child.  The telling of the “Mother’s Struggle” helped galvanize women everywhere to become more involved in the abolition efforts.

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