Harriet Beecher Stowe and slavery
A slave nurse with her mistress's son on her lap, 1850 (Copyright: Scanpix)
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896) was an American writer who, like very many other Americans, thought that slavery was wrong. In 1852 she wrote a novel called Uncle Tom's Cabin, which showed what life was like for the African-American slaves who worked in terrible conditions on the plantations in the southern states of the USA. It immediately became a bestseller, was turned into a play, and opened the eyes of millions of people, both in the USA and in Britain. The novel was translated into sixty languages before the Civil War!
Uncle Tom’s Cabin gave energy to the anti-slavery movements in the north of the USA and in Britain, and influenced the politicians who decided to put an end to the inhuman use of men, women and children. In the southern states, of course, the book made people very angry indeed, because the South depended on slave labor.
Slavery was one of the reasons why Americans fought the Civil War from 1861 to 1865, and during the war President Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe. "So you're the little woman,” he said, “who wrote the book that made this great war!"
The slaves were freed when the war ended, but Harriet’s work was not finished. She founded schools for freed slaves, and wrote a number of other books.
Correct the following sentences:
Activities for the links below
1) The first link is a synopsis (sammendrag) of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Read it in order to get an idea of the plot. Then read it again and choose the right answers to the questions below.
2) Now go to the second link and make the journey. Imagine you are a slave in 1850 who wants to escape to Canada with the help of the Underground Railway. Follow the links and, as you make the journey, make brief notes on the places you visit and the people who help you. Then write up your notes in a short speech you are going to make when you reach Canada. Remember: it has to be short! That means about 150 words.
A brief synopsis of the novel (CliffNotes)
The Underground Railroad (National Geographic)