Harriet Beecher Stowe: Successful Contribution to Connecticut History

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Although Connecticut has a lot of amazing history to it, it is one of those small states that sometimes gets lost behind the larger ones. Connecticut is known for its rough and cold winters, but it should also be known for those now well-known citizens who grew up here and got their inspiration for creating better lives for all Americans by living in Connecticut. For example, Harriet Beecher Stowe grew up here in Connecticut and was one of a few inspirational writers who helped lead our nation out of slavery. To determine exactly how Harriet Beecher Stowe got to the influential status she has, even after her death, we need to examine what occured in her childhood and the life she lived as a child. Beecher (before she became Stowe) was one of eight children born to a Calvinist minister. Calvinism is the Protestant religious conviction that popularized the belief in the sovereignty of God in all areas of life, as well as the doctrine of predestination. Although Beecher’s family believed so much in God, that was not the key to happiness. When Harriet was only four years old, her mother passed away from tuberculosis, leaving her father a widower.

At the age of 21 Beecher moved with her family to Cincinnati, Ohio, where her father became the director of the Lane Theological Seminary, and Beecher began to teach at an institution her eldest sister formed, the Western Female Institute. Beecher began studying Latin and working on her “romantic” novels. This is where her love for writing finally took off, even though it is nothing like the marvelous work that is yet to come from young Beecher. Roughly two years after moving to Ohio with her family, Beecher started writing for Western Monthly Magazine. During this time, Harriet Beecher became Harriet Beecher Stowe after marrying Calvin Ellis Stowe and the two started a family; from then on she was only writing on and off due to her demands as a wife and mother. Most women of this time were only considered successful or powerful if their husbands were. This was not the case for Harriet Beecher Stowe. In fact, she created her own fame by becoming a very influential woman who spoke about the appalling conditions of slavery, a subject about which she was very passionate, and letting the world know how traumatizing and inhumane slavery was. Her fame came as a result of the first novel she wrote, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It is said that Stowe did not write that novel for political reasons (which was a factor at the time) but for religious and emotional reasons that she faced by her knowledge of slavery (which not everyone in the United States was aware of).

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Stowe and her husband had seven children during a very rough financial era. During this time, she visited the South and saw the terrible conditions of slavery that were not experienced in the same way in the North. This experience is what triggered Stowe to start a movement that would change history.The year is 1852 and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, was published and sold around the United States. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a fictional novel about the struggle of one slave named Uncle Tom and his journey as a slave to three different types of Southern slave owners. The last slave owner was brutal and ended up killing Uncle Tom, but this was the harsh reality to some slaves in the South; others in the Northern states did not know how bad these circumstances were. The amazing outcome of the book was that it sold more than 300,000 copies in the first year it was published and it wasn’t just read by those living in the United States, but was also read by those around the world; the truth finally broke free. When the book was published and was read by hundreds of thousands, of course it was going to cause controversy and change others’ opinions. Uncle Tom’s Cabin opened the eyes of many Northerners since slavery was not as common or used in the same way as it was in the South. This led a lot of Northerners to be against slavery and started anti-slavery, or abolitionist, protests. The South was not that easy to convert to an anti-slavery movement; perhaps because this was the way they had lived for generations. That, however, led to resentment and resistance of the book in the South. In most newspapers in the South, there was talk of how misrepresented slavery was and how enraged with anger the owners were because of how poorly they were presented.

The novel brought forth stronger attitudes and judgement against slavery. This novel is what caused a commotion and what led to more powerful anti-slavery movements. In a way, the novel written by a young white woman impacted so many different individual’s ideas about slavery that it, in fact, helped the President of The United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, and his movement against slavery. This opened people’s eyes to the fact that slavery is inhumane and we as a nation needed to reexamine this institution. That is when the Civil War, Confederates versus the Union, began. The Civil War didn’t occur directly because of the novel written by Stowe, but had a tremendous influence on Americans at home and led them to see how awful slavery really was. The novel enlightened people to the shocking conditions of slavery, especially in the South, and changed some people’s views so that they were in agreement with President Lincoln. As it is a part of history, we know that slavery was abolished because the North beat the South in The Civil War.

“So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war?” is the first thing former President Abraham Lincoln said to Stowe when they first met. This is because the novel she wrote helped Lincoln get citizens on his side to start more powerful anti-slavery measures that would lead to the Confederates versus the Union and the Civil War. Although the war was influenced by Stowe’s novel about slavery, that is not the reason she wrote the novel nor the outcome she intended. The reason this book was written was because when living in Cincinnati, Stowe and her family visited the town over in Kentucky and saw what slavery was really like. She learned from runaway slaves about the underground railroads, which were secret roads and houses that were used by abolitionists to help slaves escape from the south and from their owners and move to Canada or states where they could be free. However, it was not until her one-year-old son was on his deathbed and she thought that was what it must feel like for a slave mother when her child is taken away from her to be sold off and never to be seen again that she understood the horrific lives that slaves lived. A year after her son’s death and this thought, Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It was the conversations she had with the former slaves that inspired her novel, and many of the characters in the book were based on the lives of real slaves that she had met.

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Harriet Beecher Stowe: Successful Contribution to Connecticut History. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/harriet-beecher-stowe-successful-contribution-to-connecticut-history/
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