Little did Harriet Beecher Stowe know the impact she would have when she wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” as a weekly serialized story in the abolitionist newspaper “The National Era.” When John P Jewett wanted to publish it in book form in 1852, she was skeptical if it would sell. Ten years later, President Lincoln, upon meeting her for the first time, quipped, "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war." He may have been joking, but he’s not far from the truth.
The impact this book had was incredible. Harriet Beecher Stowe had spoken directly with run-away slaves and her storylines had roots in first-hand accounts of slavery. Her book also showed that the unfair power balance of slavery allowed to masters being far crueler and commit atrocities they probably would not do in any other situation. Slave owners really did not see slaves as “humans.” Dehumanization of others is part of a greater systematic conditioning because nations around the world have allowed it for centuries and some still do. By having sympathetic slave characters, she humanized them again.
Despite being banned in the South, the book sold over 300,000 copies in the North and even more in Great Britain. Public sympathy made it possible for Great Britain to cut its strong economic ties with the South.
Two foundational newspapers for women’s voices also came on the scene. “The Lily,” published from 1849-1853, was originally a temperance publication but since all issues touch on other ones, women’s rights had plenty of coverage. Amelia Bloomer was the editor for much of its duration.
In February of 1853, “The Una” took up where “The Lily” left off but the focus was solely on women’s rights. Published by Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis, the masthead stated it was “a paper devoted to the elevation of women.” Although it had only a two-year run and closed in October of 1855, it is considered to be the first feminist newspaper.
This week’s song pick:
“What’s up?” by 4 Non Blondes https://youtu.be/6NXnxTNIWkc
Episode 16 Sources: