The Clara Barton Museum Blog

Women’s History Wednesday: Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Harriett Beecher Stowe Photograph,1850It’s Banned Books week, and we’re thinking about Harriett Beecher Stowe, and her book Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

In 19th century America, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was hugely popular–some reports say the only book that sold more copies was the Bible. The book helped energize anti-slavery sentiment in the North. In the South, it was banned.

Clara Barton proclaimed Uncle Tom’s Cabin an excellent book and assigned it to her students. She told a friend “My school boys … are reading and crying over it and wishing all sorts of good luck to Uncle Tom and the contrary to his oppressors.”

Uncle Tom’s Cabin wasn’t perfect. Today we recognize that while the book boosted anti-slavery sentiment, it also helped perpetuate several stereotypes of African Americans. The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center grapples with this fraught legacy.

One thing cannot be denied, Harriet Beecher Stowe took the country by storm with her writing. In fact, President Lincoln met Stowe he reportedly said, “So this is the little lady who made this big war.”

To learn more about Harriett Beecher Stowe, explore these resources:

  • Read this brief biography
  • Explore this (old) interactive exhibit
  • Teach these Stowe-centric lesson plans
  • Listen to Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Listen to this podcast about Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Teach this Uncle Tom’s Cabin lesson plan



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