Quotes by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Most mothers are instinctive philosophers.
The burning of rebellious thoughts in the little breast, of internal hatred and opposition, could not long go on without slight whiffs of external smoke, such as mark the course of subterranean fire.
The truth is the kindest thing we can give folks in the end.
The greater the interest involved in a truth the more careful‚ self-distrustful‚ and patient should be the inquiry.
I would not attack the faith of a heathen without being sure I had a better one to put in its place‚ because‚ such as it is‚ it is better than nothing.
What makes saintliness in my view, as distinguished from ordinary goodness, is a certain quality of magnanimity and greatness of soul that brings life within the circle of the heroic.
That ignorant confidence in one's self and one's future, which comes in life's first dawn, has a sort of mournful charm in experienced eyes, who know how much it all amounts to.
In the old times, women did not get their lives written, though I don't doubt many of them were much better worth writing than the men's.
Everyone confesses in the abstract that exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind is the best thing for us all; but practically most people do all they can to get rid of it, and as a general rule nobody does much more than circumstances drive them to do.
Let my soul calm itself, O Christ, in Thee.
One would like to be grand and heroic, if one could; but if not, why try at all? One wants to be very something, very great, very heroic; or if not that, then at least very stylish and very fashionable. It is this everlasting mediocrity that bores me.
Harriet Beecher Stowe's Biography
American writer and philanthropist, best-known for the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1851-52). Stowe wrote the work in reaction to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which made it illegal to assist an escaped slave. In the story 'Uncle Tom' of the title is bought and sold three times and finally beaten to death by his last owner. The book was quickly translated into 37 languages and it sold in five years over half a million copies in the United States. Uncle Tom's Cabin was also among the most popular plays of the 19th century.

Harriet Beecher Stowe was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, into a large family. She had two sisters (Catharine and Mary), one half-sister (Isabella), five brothers (William, Edward, George, Henry Ward, and Charles), and two half-brothers (Thomas and James). Harriet herself was the seventh child of her parents, Lyman and Roxana Beecher. "Wisht it had been a boy!" said her father after her birth. Lyman was a controversial Calvinist preacher, who saw himself as a soldier of Christ. Roxana, a granddaughter of General Andrew Ward, died of tuberculosis at 41 ? Harriet was four at that time. Two years later a stepmother took over the household.

Stowe was named after her aunt, Harriet Foote, who influenced deeply her thinking, especially with her strong belief in culture. Samuel Foote, her uncle, encouraged her to read works of Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott. When Stowe was eleven, she entered the seminary at Hartford, Connecticut, kept by her elder sister Catharine. The school had advanced curriculum and she learned languages, natural and mechanical science, composition, ethics, logic, mathematics - subjects that were generally taught to male students. Four years later she was employed as an assistant teacher. Her father married again ? he became the president of lane Theological Seminary.

Catharine and Harriet founded a new seminary, the Western Female Institute. With her sister Stowe wrote a children's geography book. In 1834 Stowe began her literary career when she won a prize contest of the Western Monthly Magazine, and soon Stowe was a regular contributor of stories and essays. Her first book, The Mayflower, appeared in 1843.

In 1836 Stowe married Calvin Ellis Stowe, a professor at her father's theological seminary. He was a widower; his late wife had been Stowe's friend. The early years of their marriage were marked by poverty. Over the next 14 years Stowe had 7 children. In 1850 Calvin Stowe was offered a professorship at Bowdoin, and they moved to Brunswick, Maine. In Cincinnati Stowe had come in contact with fugitive slaves. She learned about life in the South from her own visits there and saw how cruel slavery was. In addition the Fugitive Slave Law, passed by Congress in 1850, arose much protest ? giving shelter or assistance to an escaped slave became a crime. And finally a personal tragedy, the death of her infant Samuel from cholera, led Stowe to compose her famous novel. It was first published in the anti-slavery newspaper The National Era, from June 1851 to April 1852, and later in book form. The story was to some extent based on true events and the life of Josiah Henson. "I could not control the story, the Lord himself wrote it," Stowe once said. "I was but an instrument in His hands and to Him should be given all the praise." When Abraham Lincoln met the author he joked, "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war." Uncle Tom's Cabin was smuggled into Russia in Yiddish to evade the czarist censor. Leo Tolstoy praised the work and it remained enormously popular also after the Revolution.

Stowe's fame opened her doors to the national literary magazines. She started to publish her writings in The Atlantic Monthly and later in Independent and in Christian Union. For some time she was the most celebrated woman writer in The Atlantic Monthly and in the New England literary clubs. In 1853, 1856, and 1859 Stowe made journeys to Europe, where she became friends with George Eliot, Elisabeth Barrett Browning, and Lady Byron. However, the British public opinion turned against her when she charged Lord Byron with incestuous relations with his half-sister. In Lady Byrin Vindicated (1870) she accused him in the writing. Both the magazine Atlantic, where the text first appeared, and Stowe, suffered.

Attacks on the veracity of her portrayal of the South led Stowe to publish The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin (1853), in which she presented her source material. A second anti-slavery novel, Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp (1856), told the story of a dramatic attempt at slave rebellion.

In Uncle Tom's Cabin the pious old Uncle Tom is sold by his well-intentioned Kentucy owner, Mr. Shelby, who has fallen into debts. The trader also singles out little Harry, Eliza's child, but Eliza takes Harry and heads for the river. Uncle Tom submits to his fate. He is bought first by the idealistic Augustine St Clare after saving her daughter, Little Eva, who falls from the deck of a riverboat. In his New Orleans house, Uncle Tom makes friends with Eva's black friend, the impish Topsy. "Never was born!' persisted Topsy... 'never had no father, nor mother, nor nothin'. I was raised by a speculator, with lots of others." Eva dies from a weakened constitution, and St. Clare is killed in an accident ? he is stabbed while trying to separate two brawling men. Tom is sold to the villainous Simon Legree, a Yankee and a brutal cotton plantation owner. "I don't go for savin' niggers. Use up, and buy more, 's my way," he says. Two of Uncle Tom's female slaves, Cassy and Emmeline, pretend to escape and go into hiding. Tom will not reveal their whereabouts and Legree has his lackeys Quimbo and Sambo beat the unprotesting Tom to the point of death. Tom forgives them and dies, just as Mr. Shelby's son arrives to buy him back. Shelby decides to fight for the Abolitionist cause. A parallel plot centers on Eliza, her little child, and her husband George who escape to freedom in Canada using the 'underground railroad.' Other important characters are Miss Ophelia St. Clare, a New England spinster, and Marks, the slave catcher. Cassy meets on the boat north Madame de Throux, sister of George Harris, Eliza's husband. The Harris family leaves for Africa and George Shelby frees his slaves.

After the Civil War the sales of the novel declined. The sentimentality and religiosity of the story was considered a drawback. The first film adaptation was made in 1903. 'Uncle Tom' was used pejoratively, meaning white paternalism and black passivity, undue subservience to white people on the part of black people. In the 1970s Uncle Tom's Cabin, with its strong female characters, started to attract the attention of feminist critics, but Stowe's vision found now defenders. However, Tom's passivity was compared to Gandhi's strategy of peaceful resistance.

Stowe's later works did not gain the same popularity as Uncle Tom's Cabin. She published novels, studies of social life, essays, and a small volume of religious poems. The Stowes lived in Hartford in summer and spent their winters in Florida, where they had a luxurious home. The Pearl of Orr's Island (1862), Old-Town Folks (1869), and Poganuc People (1878) were partly based on her husband's childhood reminiscences and are among the first examples of local color writing in New England. Poganuc People was Stowe's last novel. Her mental faculties failed in 1888, two years after the death of her husband. She died on July 1, 1896 in Hartford, Connecticut.


Some rights reserved Petri Liukkonen (author) & Ari Pesonen. Kuusankosken kaupunginkirjasto 2008


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