Thursday, 14 June 2018

Harriet Beecher Stowe born on this day June 14, 1811


Harley, the slave trader, examining one of the human lots up for auction, illustration from an early edition (c. 1870) of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.As kid I loved "Uncle Tom's Cabin", in full Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly, novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe, published in serialized form in the United States in 1851–52 and in book form in 1852. An abolitionist novel, it achieved wide popularity, particularly among white readers in the North, by vividly dramatizing the experience of slavery. By the South of the United States of America it was vilified  It so enflamed popular opinion that when Harriet Beecher Stowe met Abraham Lincoln during the war between the states he said,

 "So this is the little lady who made this big war!"
Harriet was born in Litchfield, Connecticut on this day June 14, 1811, the sixth child of the prominent Congregationalist minister Lyman Beecher, an ardent Calvinist and Puritan, and is the sister of Catharine, Henry Ward, and Edward. She grew up in an atmosphere of learning and moral earnestness.
 
Lyman remarked

"Wisht it had been a boy".

Although he doted on his daughters, he desired sons who could become preachers and soul-winners. The fifth Beecher child had also been named Harriet, but had died of whooping cough a few weeks after birth.

Harriet was often morbid while growing up as she struggled with issues of faith. But when she was fourteen, she cried to her father that she had given herself to Christ. Later in her marriage to Calvin Stowe, she would plead with him to seek Christ with the same burning devotion with which he sought knowledge.
"If you had studied Christ with half the energy that you have studied Luther ... then would he be formed in you ... "
When he turned to spiritualism, she pleaded with him, the biblical scholar, that it was unbiblical.
Although Harriet wrote many other books and stories, Uncle Tom's Cabin is her best. Uncle Tom’s Cabin tells the story of Uncle Tom, depicted as a saintly, dignified slave. Blacks are shown as fully human and, more importantly, as created in the image of Christ. Many of the characters, such as Uncle Tom, Simon Legree, Eva and Topsy are vivid and memorable. Eliza, crossing the Ohio river by leaping from chunk to chunk of ice, is an unforgettable picture and is based on the true account of a desperate fugitive.

While being transported by boat to auction in New Orleans, Tom saves the life of Little Eva, whose grateful father then purchases Tom. Eva and Tom soon become great friends. Always frail, Eva’s health begins to decline rapidly, and on her deathbed she asks her father to free all his slaves. He makes plans to do so but is then killed, and the brutal Simon Legree, Tom’s new owner, has Tom whipped to death after he refuses to divulge the whereabouts of certain runaway slaves. Tom maintains a steadfastly Christian attitude toward his own suffering, and Stowe imbues Tom’s death with echoes of Christ’s.