Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Harriet Beecher Stowe

1     Harriet Beecher Stowe visited the President of the United States in 1862. President Lincoln greeted her as "the little lady who made this big war." The Civil War had just begun. Harriet Beecher Stowe had written a book called Uncle Tom's Cabin. Some believed this book was the spark that ignited the war.
2     Harriet Beecher was born on June 14, 1811. Her father was a preacher. She was the seventh of nine children. She was born in Litchfield, Connecticut. Harriet's mother died when Harriet was only five years old. Harriet never got over her early loss. Many slave children were taken from their mothers at very early ages. Many never knew the love and security a mother can give a child. Neither did Harriet. She grew up knowing how hurt the slave children were.
3     Harriet became a teacher. She and her sister, Catharine, worked together. Harriet published her first book when she was twenty-two. She was too shy to use her own name. She used her sister's name.
4     Three years later, Harriet married Calvin Stowe, also a preacher. Harriet and her husband had seven children. There was never enough money in the house for this large family. Harriet began writing to add income. She wrote poems, travel books, short biographies, children's books, and adult novels.
5     The most famous novel written by Harriet Beecher Stowe was Uncle Tom's Cabin. It was also the most controversial. Harriet, a white woman, wrote about the lives of slaves in her novel. She and her family had lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, for a while. She had seen and heard about the treatment of slaves in neighboring Kentucky. She was familiar with the Underground Railroad. She felt sorry for slaves. She wanted to help them if she could.
6     Uncle Tom's Cabin told a story about the life and death of a slave named Uncle Tom. It told of attempts to gain freedom. It told of abuse by slave owners. Stowe's book was very successful with anti-slavery supporters. It became the second most purchased book of the time. The only book to sell more copies was the Bible.
7     Critics of Stowe's work said she was a romantic dreamer. Supporters of her writing said that anyone who really read her words heard her message. Her work has remained an important piece of American literature for many years.
8     Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote other books in her lifetime. She followed Uncle Tom's Cabin with A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin. This book offered proof of her anti-slavery statements in Uncle Tom's Cabin. Oldtown Folks and The Pearl of Orr's Island were about her younger days in the northeast. A second anti-slavery book, Dred, was published in 1856. Her books have been described as "realistic novels." She told of the lives of real people in real situations. Her descriptions of settings and characters are particularly detailed.
9     Harriet Beecher Stowe lived a long and interesting life. She died at the age of 85. She was living in Hartford, Connecticut, at that time. She had seen slaves given their freedom by her country. The shy girl had been heard far and wide.


Harriet Beecher Stowe was born a slave.


What did Harriet's husband and father have in common?
  They were both preachers.
  They were both farmers.
  They were both mean.
  They were both from the South.


Why did Harriet turn to writing books?
  Her books were fun to read.
  Her family needed the money.
  She had no children and was lonely.
  She wanted to be famous.


What was Harriet Beecher Stowe's message in Uncle Tom's Cabin?


Why do you think President Lincoln called her the "little lady who made this big war"?


What were most of Mrs. Stowe's novels about?
  Real people


What is the only book to outsell Uncle Tom's Cabin at this time in history?
  The Bible
  Gone With the Wind
  A dictionary
  A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin


Where did the Stowe family live that they saw slavery?
  New York

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