Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852)

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1853 illustrated edition: This work has been widely controversial both before the Civil war and in the twentieth century.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, an American author and abolitionist, wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin to depict the heartbreaking realities of slavery. The book was an instant bestseller and sparked heated debates over slavery in the United States. According to some accounts, this contributed to the divide between the North and South that led to the Civil War. When meeting Stowe, Abraham Lincoln supposedly remarked, "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war."

Banned in some parts of the South, Stowe's book provoked a variety of responses from supporters and detractors. Other books were published to counter her descriptions of slave life, such as Life at the South, or, Uncle Tom's Cabin as It Is. In the twentieth century, the novel has been challenged and banned in a number of libraries and schools because of its stereotypical depictions of African Americans and use of language now considered racist.

Clements Library copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin