This Day in History: Uncle Tom's Cabin First Published

Story posted March 20, 2009

One hundred fifty-seven years ago, on March 20, 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe's influential novel about slavery, Uncle Tom's Cabin, was first published in book form after being serialized.

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Harriet Beecher Stowe

Stowe wrote much of the novel in her husband Calvin's study in Appleton Hall. Calvin, a theology professor, was a member of the Class of 1824.

Uncle Tom's Cabin created a vivid and emotionally gripping account of the horrors of slavery.

Its profound effect on attitudes toward African Americans and slavery in the U.S. is said to have intensified the conflict leading to the Civil War.

In fact, the book's impact was so great that when President Abraham Lincoln met Stowe at the start of the Civil War, he is often quoted as having referred to her as "the little lady who started this big war!"

Uncle Tom's Cabin is said to be the best-selling novel of the 19th century, and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible.

The George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives has material relating to Harriet Beecher Stowe, including correspondence, editorials, transcripts of selected letters, newsclippings and more.

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