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Harriet B. Stowe
*The birth of writer and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1811 is marked on this date.
She is probably the most famous of the Beecher daughters from Cincinnati, Ohio. She was given the approved religious education of the time but was troubled her entire life with doubt and preoccupied with the problem of faith. It was not until the age of thirteen that Harriet was sent to Hartford, Connecticut, to attend a school for girls. Her closest confidant was her brother Henry, and throughout their lives, they united in speaking out against the evils of slavery.
While in Cincinnati with her family, she taught at her sister Catherine's school and wrote for the Western Monthly Magazine. Her marriage in 1836 ended her literary pursuits, as she became a simple housewife married to a clergyman. Yet she would see the horrors day in and day out of slaves trying to make it to free land and the slave owners trying to stop them. Her husband encouraged her to write, and when the Fugitive Slave Law passed, Stowe's sister sent her a letter saying how she wished she had the writing skills like her so she can change the nation on how it feels about slavery.
In 1852, Stowe took up this challenge, and her abolitionist sentiments became the subject of Uncle Tom's Cabin or Life Among the Lowly. This book was about a hard-working slave named Uncle Tom and how his owner mistreated him. This book told the truth behind slavery. It sold 300,000 copies in its first year. It also had a long-lasting effect on many people. The southerners were not too pleased with this book, however. They said it had false accusations about the south and slavery in general.
The book's success was astounding, and Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a book a year for nearly thirty years. She died in 1896.
The Encyclopedia Britannica, Fifteenth Edition.
Copyright 1996 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.