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Weinstein, Cindy (2004) Introduction. In: The Cambridge Companion to Harriet Beecher Stowe. Cambridge Companions to Literature. Cambridge University Press , Cambridge, pp. 1-14. ISBN 9780511999673.

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Harriet Beecher Stowe's most famous introduction took place on or around Thanksgiving Day, 1862, when she was introduced to President Abraham Lincoln, who allegedly greeted her with these memorable words, “So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war! ” Even if we grant Lincoln's statement its obvious degree of ironic intention, he, nevertheless, makes quite a claim for the impact of Uncle Tom's Cabin on American history. One glance at virtually any of Lincoln's speeches reveals that he, like Stowe, believed that the power of words could alter the minds and hearts of individuals. Stowe's faith in the transforming capacity of language makes a great deal of sense, given that she came from a distinguished family of ministers and social activists - in an 1851 letter to Frederick Douglass, she writes, “I am a ministers daughter - a ministers wife & I have had six brothers in the ministry . . . & I certainly ought to know something of the feelings of ministers.” Stowe here refers to her father, Lyman Beecher, President of Lane Seminary, her husband, Calvin Stowe, who served at various times as Professor at Lane Seminary, Professor of the Chair of Sacred Literature at Andover Theological Seminary and Professor at Bowdoin College, and her brothers, the most famous of whom was Henry Ward Beecher, head of the prestigious Congregationalist Plymouth Church in Brooklyn and anti-slavery activist. This list, it should be noted, doesn’t even mention her influential sisters, Catharine Beecher, founder of the Hartford Female Seminary and author of many tracts, including A Treatise on Domestic Economy, and Isabelle Beecher Hooker, whose close ties to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony made Isabelle an important figure in the campaign for women’s rights. To what extent Stowe’s own words of ministration and protest catapulted the nation toward Civil War is an unanswerable question, but clearly Stowe wanted her novel to bring about great social change and Lincoln thought she had succeeded.

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Additional Information:© 2004 Cambridge University Press.
Series Name:Cambridge Companions to Literature
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180828-124648359
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Official Citation:Weinstein, C. (2004). Introduction. In C. Weinstein (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Harriet Beecher Stowe (Cambridge Companions to Literature, pp. 1-14). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CCOL052182592X.001
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:89251
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:28 Aug 2018 23:13
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 00:33

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