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Was Harriet Beecher Stowe an Abolitionist

Discussion in 'Civil War History - Secession and Politics' started by Pat Young, Mar 13, 2017.

  1. brass napoleon

    brass napoleon Colonel Retired Moderator Member of the Year

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    You have taken that entirely out of context. If you read the whole thing, and not just a cherry-picked sentence that suits your oft-repeated agenda, you'll see her purpose is to "awaken sympathy and feeling for the African race", wherever they may be found, whether that be "as they exist among us", or in "unhappy Africa":

    http://utc.iath.virginia.edu/uncletom/uteshbsbt.html
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2017
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  3. uaskme

    uaskme Corporal

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    Last edited: Mar 14, 2017
  4. Pat Young

    Pat Young Colonel Forum Host

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    Not yet. I had not read Uncle Tom either until I was in my 50s. I will put it on my list.
     
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  5. AndyHall

    AndyHall Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    For those who may not be familiar with it, a year or so after she published Uncle Tom's Cabin, Stowe published The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, which is an exhaustive collection of clippings, letters, and essays explaining how she went about writing the novel and developing the characters. She was stung by criticism that the novel was a a gross exaggeration of reality, if not a complete fabrication, and she wanted to make clear that many of the incidents and situations that she wrote about in fictional form were drawn directly from real life.

    Full disclosure: A relative of mine makes a cameo appearance in The Key, and not in a good way.
     
  6. uaskme

    uaskme Corporal

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  7. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    Having read Uncle Tom's Cabin, is it true that there were no real villans, except Simon Legree, the Yankee overseer?
     
  8. matthew mckeon

    matthew mckeon Brigadier General Moderator

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    That's a great question. What Stowe tried to describe was not wicked people organizing a wicked system, but that the system of slavery made otherwise admirable people do vicious things. Tom's first owners, the Shelbys, are decent folk, and much loved by the loyal Tom, but involved in a system that pressures them to destroy Tom and his family. Each of the whites and blacks that Tom encounters on his descent to the ultimate hell of Legree's plantation have been warped, crippled or twisted by slavery.

    When Eliza escapes and tries to take refuge in free territory, the first couple she encounters are ready to turn her over to the slave catchers, not because they're bad people, but the Fugitive Slave Law is compelling them to hurt Eliza and her child. (They ultimately refuse to, breaking the law).
     
  9. matthew mckeon

    matthew mckeon Brigadier General Moderator

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    Even Legree has a moment recalling his childhood and mother, briefly, how did it come to this?
     
  10. Pat Young

    Pat Young Colonel Forum Host

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    She reportedly did not want to depict slaveowners as inherently cruel and sadistic because she wanted to show the system of slavery as the problem.
     
  11. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    You really ought to read the book before claiming what's in it. Otherwise you make yourself look foolish or worse.
     
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  12. Pat Young

    Pat Young Colonel Forum Host

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    I thought the book was a good read, by the way.
     
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  13. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    Exactly. The book is not anti-Southerner. It's antislavery. Unfortunately, most white Southerners of the time did not see a difference between the two.
     
  14. Pat Young

    Pat Young Colonel Forum Host

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    In it, the "good" slaveowner could be forced to transfer blacks to "bad" owners because of death, business setbacks, etc.
     
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  15. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    She(like Lincoln) saw clearly, that it was the Institution( system) of slavery that was at fault, and that the whites were just as much victims of it as their slaves, unlike many abolitionists, she was sympathetic to their plight.
     
  16. uaskme

    uaskme Corporal

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    Here is another clip that might help us understand Stowe's position on Colonization.,

    In this same article, the North American Review examined other theories and writings about slavery. The reviewer, who longed to see the Union restored, argued that all employers of labor tended to exploit their workers, and he sought to reconcile the views of North and South. Although he condemned racist apologist who showed a "complacent tolerance of American slavery as it is, "he judged that"cruelty and harshness" are "the exception" in the South and criticized the abolitionist for causing "exasperation of feeling" among Southerners, while ignoring the "great problem" of deciding what to do with the slaves. There might be an "undoubted inferiority of the Africans, "but this writer questioned whether that inferiority was "inherent and irremovable" or the result of centuries of degradation." Urging greater Christianity to elevate both the powerful and the lowly, he predicted that slavery would be humanized before it eventually disappeared. "Its heart must be eaten out before its body dies. "This reviewer also reported without criticism the views of a Reverend Hiller, who was a "zealous Colonizationist." Hiller {like Harriet Beecher Stowe} saw superior "moral Susceptibilities" in the slaves and believed that the "design of Infinite Wisdom" was to allow slaves to be brought to the US so they could be Christianized and latter, after gradual emancipation, sent home to evangelize and regenerate the land of birth.
    footnoted: North American Review (April 1861)
    What Shall We Do With the Negro by Paul D. Escott pp43-44
     
  17. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Off thread for Intermission. Only here, can ' twaddle ' be used- and we're all rather militantly behind it. Yea! Cannot you believe this twaddle? Boy, that's the biggest load of horse twaddle I've heard! I'm calling bull twaddle on that! No twaddle, really? OH! remember 25 years ago, " **** happens? " I want a bumper sticker, identifying me as belonging here like nothing else could, " Twaddle Happens ".
     
  18. brass napoleon

    brass napoleon Colonel Retired Moderator Member of the Year

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    :bounce: Thanks, Annie. That got my day off to a good start! :giggle:
     
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  19. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    How does this twaddle help us understand Beecher's position? What I'm reading is excusatory ( more excusatory ), manipulative conversation all about how it's somehow more Christian to enslave people, how it's better for an inferior race to be enslaved and better- how one day, if everyone leaves it all alone, slavery will go away all by itself. Pretty sure Stowe had no conclusions anywhere near any of this.... twaddle.
     
  20. uaskme

    uaskme Corporal

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    She wrote in UTC about Christinizing Blacks and Colonizing them to Africa. We have 2 Historians who explained her Position. I'm sure it changed from 1850 to 1860. I don't care. I got pulled into this because Of a decision on UTC. Was she an Abolitionist then. Her Position, Christianizing Black and Colonizing them back to Africa had a following in the Abolition movement. If you believe that is Abolition, then she was a Abolitionist in 1850. God Bless Her.
     
  21. matthew mckeon

    matthew mckeon Brigadier General Moderator

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    I agree with Stowe's insight: slavery was a system, with certain ugly demands and degrading effects. I resist the formulation "the whites were just as much victims of it as their slaves" because by any measure the slaves were getting the short end of the stick. But if you mean that slavery compelled certain behavior from whites, then I'll agree.
     
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