Josiah Henson the real Uncle Tom?

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Aug 25, 2012
The book Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly had a major impact on abolition and reaction to the book in the North and South added tension to the divide between the two sections of the country. It was claimed that Stowe based her book on Josiah Henson, so was Henson the real live Uncle Tom of Stowe's book? If so, Josiah Henson helped to set up the conditions that caused the Civil War.

Josiah Henson was an abolitionist, minister, farmer, and Canadian military militia officer. He was born into slavery and eventually escaped to Upper Canada and freedom. His escape from slavery was detailed in his book The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself. At the time Henson could not read or write so he dictated the book. Harriet Beecher Stowe read Henson's book and appears to have used the life of Josiah Henson as the inspiration of Uncle Tom in her book.

Although too old to serve in the Civil War where his Canadian war service as a Canadian military officer may have been of use to the Union, Josiah Henson's did have a son fight in the First Michigan Colored Regiment.


Sergeant Major
Aug 8, 2011
Gettysburg area