On this day in 1852, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published to immediate success. Harriet Beecher Stowe (pictured above by Alanson Fisher’s work in the National Gallery) wrote this compelling picture of slavery after the death of her son, Samuel Charles Stowe. Though she and her husband had been quite vocal against slavery, even supporting the Underground Railroad, it was this loss that motivated Harriet to speak out in such a way. She is quoted as stating, “Having experienced losing someone so close to me, I can sympathize with all the poor, powerless slaves at the unjust auctions. You will always be in my heart Samuel Charles Stowe.”
Uncle Tom’s Cabin began as a serial published in the National Era. From her home, Stowe would host groups of friends and students to discuss the book as it progressed. The initial printing of 5,000 by John P. Jewett sold out almost immediately. The work would go on to sell 300,000 copies in less than half a year. It became the book the North Abolitionists praised, and the Southern Slave Owners despised.
Stowe, a champion for abolition, would continue to fight long after the Civil War. This time for women’s rights, especially when it pertained to marriage property rights. At the time a married woman owned no property or had any wealth, all fortunes belonging to her husband.
Stowe, a woman of some privilege and upbringing, was a voice for change over much of her adult life in a time where women were not accorded as much opportunity and standing. I think this shows that no matter how small we think our voice may be, it can have an impact on society. Maybe the next thing you write will be this century’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. What cause would you champion if you could?
Until next time my Gentle Readers. Live well, write well, be well.