Mrs. Stowe and Her Uncle Tom -- By: F. B. Sanborn

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 068:272 (Oct 1911)
Article: Mrs. Stowe and Her Uncle Tom
Author: F. B. Sanborn


Mrs. Stowe and Her Uncle Tom1

F. B. Sanborn

You do well to celebrate this anniversary to-night, at the end of the full century from the birth, in yonder Connecticut village, of Harriet Beecher who was to check with her feminine finger that great car of Juggernaut which sixty years ago was moving on, pushed by the withered hands of dying statesmen and ambitious traitors, to crush a whole race of men under slavery; and to ruin, as it had already disgraced, the republic of Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson. The car halted when “Uncle Tom’s Cabin “blocked the road for a while; then moved on to the capture of fugitive slaves, the invasion of Kansas, the attempted murder of Charles Sumner, and a reopening of the piratical slave-trade at Charleston and Mobile. But the little woman down by Bowdoin College, writing sketches and funny stories for the magazines and Sunday-school libraries, and sending her great antislavery novel, by weekly instalments, to a newspaper of limited circulation at Washington, all through the year 1851, when Daniel Webster was howling forth denunciations of God’s Higher Law, and tearing away poor laborers from their hired toil in Boston, to be flogged and sold at the South,— this unknown wife of a theologue lecturing to forty students in a small Maine college proved to have a force that was denied to Webster and his emissaries and supporters at Boston, Washington, Rich-

mond, New York, and in the churches of commerce throughout the land. And when this unworthy representative of the Puritans, his ancestors, was crouching before the slave-masters in the spring of 1852, beseeching their votes for President, Mrs. Stowe’s timely romance was speeding, on the wings of the printing-press, over America and Europe, converting millions to the faith of Jefferson, of Garrison, of Toussaint L’Ouverture, Garibaldi, Abraham Lincoln, and John Brown! “Uncle Tom’s Cabin “was the miracle of literature in 1852–53; no book had ever sold so fast, in so many languages, as Mrs. Stowe’s weekly contribution to Dr. Bailey’s National Era, when it took the shape of bound volumes here in Boston, crossed over to London and Paris, and was circulated in French, German, Italian, Hungarian, Russian, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Polish, and the minor dialects of the Slavonic and Scandinavian languages. Then, mounting the stage in a hundred cities, it has continued for more than half a century to be a crowd-drawing melodrama, which holds its place still amid the myriads of tragedies and comedies that have been written since this thrilling drama unleashed its dogs and set its ice-bound Ohio River in the pathway of Eliza, the escaping slave-woman.

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