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Harriet Beecher Stowe Biography

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Katie Rarick

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Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe was born June 14, 1811. She was born into a large, famous family. Her siblings all became ministers, educators, or founders of an organization; but she believed her purpose in life was to write. Stowe started off not as successful as her siblings, but she stuck to her gut feeling and eventually created some of the greatest pieces of writings that opened the public's eyes towards slavery. What was it about Stowe's writings that made slavery more aware to the nation?

Stowe attended school at Sarah Pierce's Litchfield Female Academy and Hartford Female Seminary, which was founded by her sister Catherine. At the Seminar is where she gained most of her writing talents. She spent many hours and nights writing essays. She was well prepared for her writing career from not only her schooling, but also the education and discipline she learned at home. She graduated when she was only 13. At her graduation, she had one of her essays read in which her father had no idea. When he had heard she had written it he was, to say the least, surprised and proud.

She later married Calvin Stowe, who was nothing more than a college professor. She stated he was "rich in Greek and Hebrew, Latin & Arabic, & alas rich in nothing else...". This motivated Stowe to begin to do something with her writings. Her and her husband could not afford living on Calvin's salary, therefore she began to write stories and publish them. Another huge influence was her attitude towards slavery and the wrong doings that she could not speak out about because she was a woman. They only way she could get her words out was to write about the issue that was bothering her and many others as well. She had a group of friends with the same beliefs as her and they began to create some writings together. Once she married Calvin, however, that was her final push to publish her works. Her writings were not only a source of income but also an educational source.

Harriet Beecher Stowe was not only an author, but also an abolitionist. Stowe created over 30 pieces of work, with Uncle Tom's Cabin being her greatest piece. ("Impact of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Slavery, and the Civil War"). She wrote it in response to the Fugitive Slave Act. It showed readers the effects slavery had on families and people began to empathize with the characters in the story. It has been said that because of Stowe's book, the Civil War began. No one knows if this is true or not, but President Lincoln once said to Stowe, "so you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!". It wouldn't be a surprise if that was the case, because the book influenced people in the way of political and economic arguments about slavery.

After the book was published, Stowe got many reviews that both applauded the book as well as stated it was inaccurate and not powerful enough. Some said the main character, Tom, wasn't forceful enough. They said it wasn't powerful enough to move slavery and that she was being one-sided about slavery. Those who praised the book, said it made slavery seem more realistic and opened people's eyes to what slavery was doing. Stowe responded to the critics by writing The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin. It stated her sources of Uncle Tom's Cabin, therefore people couldn't say her information was false or that she was being one-sided.

Harriet Beecher Stowe became an international celebrity after the publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin ("Impact of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Slavery, and the Civil War"). She travelled to Britain to seal rights for another novel of hers, and while she was there people crowded around her on the streets. She was given a 26-page petition signed by British women all over the world who were wanting Americans to end slavery. She was also invited to anti-slavery marches and rallies and was asked to speak before many people. However, she didn't like to speak it public, so she stood back as her husband and brother spoke on her behalf. Queen Elizabeth wanted to meet her, but Harriet declined. Queen Elizabeth still gave Stowe and her sister a ride out of the city so they wouldn't get rushed by city people("Impact of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Slavery, and the Civil War").

Harriet's second anti-slavery novel was less influential than Uncle Tom's Cabin but still a good piece of work. Dred, A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp talks about abolition but doesn't have the outlook of an end to slavery ("Harriet Beecher Stowe Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp Essay- Critical Essays"). Stowe directed this novel towards people in the south, where she directed Uncle Tom's Cabin to those of the north. She focused on legal aspects of slavery as while as plantation life to try to expose the wrong doings of the said system. When people criticized this book, they said Stowe wasn't as inspired as she was when she wrote her first anti-slavery novel. Some said Dred was not as sentimental but more realistic than Uncle Tom's Cabin. There were also critics who said Dred was less successful because Stowe lost confidence in the abolition of slavery.

Harriet Beecher Stowe made many powerful movements through her writings. She proved women can speak out and make a difference. She started many riots and rallies for slavery, which eventually leaded to abolition of slavery all together. Her contribution to literature and the world will forever be remembered. As Uncle Tom's Cabin is read in six different languages and is used all around the world in history and literature classes.

Harriet Beecher Stowe died July 1, 1896 at 86 years old ("Harriet Beecher Stowe's Life"). She is still known all around the world today. There are museums, landmarks, and her works still exist and are used today. The house she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin in in Maine was bought by Bowdoin College and restored. The house she lived in for the final years of her life is restored and is now a museum. It keeps Stowe's items and a research library as well! Harriet Beecher Stowe is still an important woman in history more than a century later!

Stowe accomplished so much with a pen and her words. Women of her time couldn't publicly speak, so writing was the way women got their thoughts and ideas out to the world. It is incredible to imagine the world we would be in without a simple piece of work that a young woman from Litchfield, CT published. Uncle Tom's Cabin was one of the main reasons people started speaking out about slavery. If her writings weren't around, would somebody else have raised their voice? Would we still have slavery? Would the bloodiest war in American history have taken place? It is amazing what one piece of writing can do for the world.

References

(Harriet Beecher Stowe's Life)

(Harriet Beecher Stowe Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp Essay-Critical Essays)

(Impact of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Slavery, and the Civil War)


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