My Name is Harriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe. I am the seventh child of Protestant preacher Lyman Beecher. I am also in relations with Henry Warn Beecher, my brother, and Catherine Beecher, my sister. I grew up in Litchfield, Connecticut but moved to Hartford where my sister Catherine had created a school. Later in life I married Calvin Ellis Stowe and together we moved to Brunswick, Maine where we had seven children, though the youngest passed away of cholera in 1849 at the age of one. During my lifetime, I have written poems, travel books, biographical sketches, and children's books, as well as adult novels but my famed piece of literature was my novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, an abolitionist book that viewed the life of a slave. My book had not at first started as a novel; it had begun as a serial for the Washington anti-slavery weekly, the National Era. A friend of mine, William Lloyd Garrison (editor of the abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator) helped me to begin to publish fictional sketches. Soon with much encouragement of the public, I began my two volume work that was published in 1852. Within a week of its release in the U.S., my book sold around 10,000 copies and 300,000 copies during the first year.
1. What issue brought you to the reform movement? Why?
My family had always supported Black rights for as far back as I can remember. I had grown up with anti-slavery ideas and seeing the horrors of slavery from living in a slave state. Though out everything I had experienced, it was the Fugitive State Law of 1850 that hit me the hardest. My sister Catherine encouraged me to use my literary talents to express my beliefs against slavery and so I did.
2. What makes a good society?
The economy of the south depends on slavery. Without slaves, the south could not thrive. This is the type of society we live in today. What our society needs is equality. The difference of skin does not make a person who they are. “So long as the law considers all these human beings, with beating hearts and living affections, only as so many things belonging to the master -- so long as the failure, or misfortune, or imprudence, or death of the kindest owner, may cause them any day to exchange a life of kind protection and indulgence for one of hopeless misery and toil -- so long it is impossible to make anything beautiful or desirable in the best-regulated administration of slavery.”When society is equal, man and woman, black and white, then we shall see the day we can use the term ‘good society’ and actually let those words be truthful in their meaning.
3. Is Mankind perfectible?
“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.” Mankind could probably be perfectible…if it gave perfection a chance. Mankind likes to think it is already perfect and that no changes can be made. But with abolitionist ideas and giving women a higher ranked role in society and such, mankind would have a chance at being more perfectible. Unfortunately, mankind is too blind to be troubled by such ideals.
4. Can Society be changed by active involvement or by withdrawal?
I feel that to ignore an issue is never the answer. There is always something out there you can do it change society by getting your opinions to the public. I wrote a book on anti-slavery reformation. My sister created a school. Active involvement is the key to working towards a better, fairer future.
5. Is human nature fundamentally good or bad?
“Human nature is above all things lazy.”