Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe: Introduction

Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe was first published in 1852 in the form of a book. Before it was published in a book form it was serially get published in the anti-slavery newspaper The National Era, from June 1851 to April 1852.


Harriet Beecher Stowe



No one, including its own author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, had expected the book to become a sensation, but this antislavery novel brought the hurricane in the world causing the Civil War in America. It stood as the second best-selling book in the world during the nineteenth century, second only to the Bible. This novel received severe criticism along with the worldwide praise from the great writers of the literature.

Uncle Tom's Cabin had been written as a vehement response to the 1850 Middle Passage of the Fugitive Slave Law. According to this law, those whoever supported the runaway slaves would be punished. Moreover, the northerners have to help to catch the runaway slaves.  In a great hope to move her fellow Americans to protest this law and slavery in general, Stowe did her the best to portray "the institution of slavery just as it existed." Indeed, Uncle Tom's Cabin was nearly unique at the time in its presentation of the slaves' point of view.

Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin narrates the stories of three slaves: Tom, Eliza, and George. They all work in Kentucky plantation, whose lives take different turns. Eliza and George are husband and wife by relation, but they are owned by different masters. They despite many hurdles manage to escape to free territory with their little boy, Harry. Tom does not prove so lucky. He is separated from his wife and children. Uncle Tom is sold first to a kind master, Augustine St. Clare, and then to the cruel Simon Legree. He got beaten from Simon till death. Stowe used images of home life, maternity, and Christianity to draw the attention of her nineteenth century audience's hearts and imaginations. The characters of Uncle Tom's Cabin like Uncle Tom, Little Eva, and Simon Legree have all achieved legendary status in American culture and literature, though the novel received controversial criticism.

Part of Uncle Tom's Cabin was based on Stowe's reading of abolitionist books and pamphlets parts of the story came from her own observations of black communities with personal experience of slavery. Regarding to Uncle Tom's Cabin she herself said 'The Lord Himself wrote it, and I was but the humblest of instruments in his hands.' Somewhere she once again said about Uncle Tom's Cabin - 'I'm not much, I'm just writing this down for God listen to me, God speaks through my voice.’ No book has been as popular as 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'. It brought massive economic and intellectual support for Stowe. Divided criticism was launched against the book. Some appreciated Stowe for making a lifelike representation of slavery, some southern readers attacked Stowe's misleading representation of slavery in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In Uncle Tom's Cabin slavery is represented as a stigma of humanity. Through this narrative Harriet Beecher Stowe is supplicating for the abolition of slavery from human society.