Uncle Tom’s Cabin
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Uncle Tom’s Cabin

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Introduction to the novel and its relation to Abolitionism

Introduction to the novel and its relation to Abolitionism

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Uncle Tom’s Cabin Uncle Tom’s Cabin Presentation Transcript

  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Origins of American slavery
    • Slaves first arrived in Virginia in 1619
      • Originally many were treated like indentured servants and freed after a period of years
      • By 1660 laws had been written to make them slaves for life and to say that children followed the condition of the mother
    • Relatively small percentage of slaves from Africa came to North America
  • Abolitionism
    • The movement to abolish the institution of slavery. Abolition= the abolishment of slavery
    • Gradual abolition—The idea that at some future date children of slaves would be freed soon after reaching adulthood—already no new slaves could be brought in since 1808
    • Immediate abolition—The idea that slavery was such a great moral injustice that it must be done away with at once.
    View slide
    • Voluntary abolition—the idea that by a combination of moral suasion and economic changes the south would eventually yield to a gradual abolition scheme.
    • Colonization—the idea that freed slaves should emigrate and form a colony in Africa or South America or the Caribbean
    View slide
  • Early movements toward abolition
    • By 1804 slavery had been abolished in Pennsylvania and all states north of it.
    • Slave trade from Africa abolished in 1808 following Great Britain’s action in 1807
    • Anti-slavery feeling existed among many of the founding fathers (even though some were slave owners)
    • Early 1800’s some trend toward making it easier to emancipate slaves in southern states
    • Slavery was overthrown in 1803 in Haiti after a violent uprising that began in 1791
  • Why voluntary abolition never happened
    • Trend toward emancipation in south reversed as southern states worried about loss of power and influence as new non-slave states entered the union
    • Natural increase more than made up for loss of new slaves from Africa. Also until 1840s this prohibition was often flouted by taking slaves to the Caribbean first.
  • Why abolition never happened voluntarily continued
    • Slave owners felt more passionate about holding on to their slaves than most Northerners felt about abolition.
    • Effect of Nat Turner’s Rebellion in 1831
    • Rise in pro-slavery propaganda
      • Slavery defended as positive good not necessary evil
      • Southern churches began to support it
  • Increasing tensions
    • As the US expanded there was great debate over whether the new states should be slave or free and concerns over whether the balance of power between the North and South would change.
  • Literature of Abolition
    • Key genres
      • Novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin
      • Slave narrative --Narrative of Frederick Douglass. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
    • Other genres
      • Poetry, drama, sermons, lectures, pamphlets and newspaper editorials.
  • Key themes
    • Whippings and other abuse
    • Corruption of slave owner
    • Separation of families—slave auctions
    • Sexual abuse of female slaves
    • Suffering of mulatto slaves/hypocrisy of master/father
    • Slavery as against Christianity
    • Entrepreneurial spirit of slaves/escaped slaves
    • Slavery as a contradiction of the ideals of declaration of Independence
    • Injustice of Fugitive slave law
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin
    • Written by Stowe after the passage of the fugitive slave law
    • Was the most famous and most influential anti-slavery novel.
    • Strongly criticized and banned in the south also prompted rival accounts
    • Increased anti-slavery feeling in the North
  • Sentimental Fiction
    • The novel is an example of sentimental literature. It aims to give pleasure and convey its message through evoking strong emotions. Strict realism is not a concern compared to dramatic effect.
    • Novel was also aimed particularly at women readers-appeals to their maternal feelings and provides idealized scenes of women’s moral influence.
  • Death of children
    • Scene of Eva’s death
    • Use to stir emotions in scene at Senator Bird’s and to make readers identify with slave mothers who lose their children
  • Idealization of Motherhood
    • “ MY Friend, if in becoming a mother, you have reached the climax of your happiness, you have also taken a higher place in the scale of being. A most important part is allotted you, in the economy of the great human family. “
    • Lydia Maria Child
  • From National Era 1852
    • “For thrilling delineation of character, and power of description, this work is unrivalled. It has been denominated, and with truth, THE STORY OF THE AGE! The fact that  ten thousand copies have been sold in two weeks  is evidence sufficient of its unbounded popularity.”
  • From National Era 1852
    •  "We conceive, the, that in writing 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe has done more to diffuse real knowledge of the facts and workings of American Slavery, and to arouse the sluggish nation to shake off the curse, and abate the wrong than has been accomplished by all the orations, and anniversaries, and arguments, and documents, which the last ten years have been the witness of.”
  • From National Era 1852
    • “ It takes no extreme views. It does not seek to seize upon the most horrible atrocities, and brand the whole system as worse than it is. It is fair, and generous, and calm, and candid. A slave-holder might read it without anger, but not easily without a secret abhorrence of the system which he himself upholds. It brings out, quietly and collaterally, those incidental features of servitude which are usually little thought of, but which are the overflow of its cup of abominations.”
  • William Allen in 1852
    •  ” I have recently read Uncle Tom. What a book! It is, in its line, the wonder of wonders. How its descriptions stir the blood, indeed almost make it leap out of the heart! What delineations of characters—St. Clare and Legree, extremes of slaveholders. ”
  • William Allen in 1852
    • “ The story of the Quadroon girl, second book, thirty-fourth chapter, exceeds anything that I have ever read, in all that is soul-searching and thrilling. Indeed, the book is marvellous for its dramatic power, and I do not wonder that cheap editions are now being called for throughout the Northern States. “
  • London Times
    • “ Mrs. HARRIET BEECHER STOWE is an abolitionist, and her book is a vehement and unrestrained argument in favor of her creed. She does not preach a sermon, for men are accustomed to nap and nod under the pulpit; she does not indite a philosophical discourse, for philosophy is exacting, is solicitous for truth, and scorns exaggeration. Nor does the lady condescend to survey her intricate subject in the capacity of a judge, for the judicial seat is fixed high above human passion, and she is in no temper to mount it. With the instinct of her sex, the clever authoress takes the shortest road to her purpose, and strikes at the convictions of her readers by assailing their hearts.”
  • London Times
    • “ Mrs. STOWE having made up her mind that slavery is an abomination in the sight of God and man, thinks of nothing but the annihilation of the pernicious system. From the first page of her narrative to the last this idea is paramount in her mind, and colors all her drawing. That she will secure proselytes we take for granted; for it is in the nature of enthusiasm to inoculate with passionate zeal the strong-hearted as well as the feeble-minded. That she will convince the world of the purity of her own motives and of the hatefulness of the sin she denounces is equally clear; but that she will help, in the slightest degree, towards the removal of the gigantic evil that afflicts her soul is a point upon which we may express the greatest doubt.”
  • Call for a Southern Response
    • “ With the great moral force of literature overturn the unholy citadel erected by the slander, fanaticism, and malignity of your enemies, from whose unconsecrated towers, arrows steeped in the poison of falsehood and infamous libel, are shot at your institutions. There never was a field that promised a more deathless immortality to the author than this, nor greater benefits to his country and race. The success of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," is an evidence of the manner in which our enemies are employing literature for our overthrow. Is that effusion, in which a woman, instigated by the devil, sows the seed of future strife between the two sections of her country, likely to be the last? No. The literary workshops of the north are even now resounding with the noisy and fanatical labors of those who, with Mrs. Stowe as their model, are forging calumnies, and hammering falsehood into the semblance of truth. “
    • T W White in the Southern Literary Messenger 1856
  • Anonymous epigram
    • When Latin I studied, my Ainsworth in hand, I answered my teacher that  Sto  meant  to stand , But if asked, I should now give another reply, For  Stowe  means, beyond any cavil,  to lie .
    • Published in 1853