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One the Civil War Era was Harriet Beecher

One of the most well known people during the Civil War Era was Harriet Beecher Stowe. Harriet Beecher Stowe was born June 14, 1811 as Harriet Elisabeth Beecher to her parents Lyman Beecher and Roxana Foote in Connecticut. At just the age of five Stowe’s mother died, she was then sent away to live with other family on a farm. It was there that she learned to read and write but she also witnessed slaves and the awful way that they were treated this image “bothered her deeply” as a child. Through her education she received from “Ma’am” Kilbourne’s School, Litchfield Academy and Western Female Institute she became an extremely successful writer (“Harriet Beecher Stowe, 2003). Out of her many novels, poems and essays her most well known work, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was very successful for showing what slavery was like and how it was morally wrong. Thus, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was influential leading up to the Civil War. During this time period there were several events that took place leading up to the Civil War. One major event was the Wilmot Proviso, which was a law that was created by David Wilmot of Pennsylvania. The Proviso called for a ban on slavery in any lands won from the Mexican War. It ended up not passing in Congress but this event heated up the debate over slavery in the new territories. Since the tensions were already high over slavery this event only sparked the war to occur even more. Another key event that took place leading up to the Civil War was the Missouri Compromise. In 1820 there were eleven free states and eleven slave states in the United States. When Missouri proposed to enter the Union as a slave state, it caused the balance between the free and the slave states to be unequal. Once that happened Senator Henry Clay proposed the Missouri Compromise, which admitted  Maine as a free state and Missouri as a slave state. As part of the Missouri Compromise, Congress created the imaginary line at latitude 36’30 N, which meant slavery would be permitted in the Louisiana Purchase south of this line. This event did not go over well because it showed the north as being aggressively anti-slavery which caused more tension over slavery.  The final main event that was a cause leading up to the Civil War was The Fugitive Slave Act, included in the Compromise of 1850. The law required all citizens to help catch runaway slaves. For those who let fugitive slaves escape would be fined $1,000 (Henderson, 2006). This was huge because this law enraged many of the northern citizens whom were anti-slavery. It was this law the struck a nerve for abolitionist and writer Harriet Beecher Stowe to write her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 2014). Overall, these were three key events that lead to the Civil War. Harriet Beecher Stowe was an abolitionist during the Civil War Era. She became very involved in the movement against slavery because she had always been bothered by the idea of slaves and the way they were treated (“Harriet Beecher Stowe, 2003). In 1851, Stowe wrote her most famous novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Stowe was inspired to write this book when an idea came to her while she was at church after the Fugitive Slave Act had been passed (Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 2014). She was infuriated about the law so she used her talent as a writer to effectively display how wrong slavery was. In her book she wrote about the way life was for slaves which showed people how badly slaves were being treated just because of their skin color (Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 2014). She wanted to show people that slavery was not just a political issue but rather a moral issue. She displays this in the book when Tom yells out to his master, ” It will hurt you more than’t will me! Do the worst you can , my troubles’ll be over soon; but if ye don’t repent, yours won’t never end” (Stowe, 1999). In that quote she is saying that Tom’s suffering will soon end for him, however his Master will have to live with what he has done for the rest of his life and he cannot escape that. Stowe also was wise in presenting both viewpoints throughout Uncle Tom’s Cabin even though she did not support the idea of slavery.  Uncle Tom’s Cabin caused many more people, mainly northerners, to stand out and speak out against slavery which is what she wanted as an abolitionist (Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 2014). However, Southerners were not happy with the book because they had felt that they were being personally attacked for their way of life by Stowe’s illustrations and “Stereotypical descriptions” about slavery (Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 2014). However those were not her intentions when she wrote the book. She just wanted to write something that would send a strong statement about being against the institution of slavery. The overall impact of her book was that  it brought light to a very serious issue and she gained support from more people who were beginning to fight against slavery as well. It has been said her novel was so powerful that she was the one who “started” the Civil War and when she met president Abraham Lincoln it has also been said that he greeted her by saying ” So this is the little lady who started this great war” (Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 2014). Whether or not that is true, there is no doubt that her book was influential. If  it were not for her anti-slavery beliefs and ideas that she wrote about in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, many people may not have been exposed to her ideas of equality. America may have never had the war and rights for African Americans may have taken longer to achieve, or may not have been achieved at all. Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was so successful that it sold over three million copies by the beginning of the Civil War, making it second only to the Bible (Stowe, 1999). Since there was backlash on Uncle Tom’s Cabin, that she had no first hand experience or knowledge of slave plantations and slave life, she wrote a sequel  A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 2014). This book was a way for Stowe to show a more accurate portrayal of slavery (Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 2014). More importantly Stowe was a successful abolitionist and her book influenced Americans during the nineteenth century. If she had never made the decision to ” write something to make the whole nation feel what accursed thing slavery is” than the issue of slavery may not have been brought to attention the way it needed to and slavery would have expanded even further (Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 2014).

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