What aspects of Stowe's life provided inspiration for the Christian references in the book?

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litelle209 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Born in 1811 in Connecticut, Harriet was the daughter of the rather outspoken Presbyterian minister, Lyman Beecher, who was a co-founder of the temperance society. Her mother, a deeply religious woman who gave birth to thirteen children, died when Harriet was quite young. This may have perhaps enabled her to be close to her father and brothers Henry, Charles, and Edward, who were ministers as well. I suggest though that her education may have influenced her the most. This is reflected in the references to Christianity we find in Uncle Tom's Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe attended seminary school and thus received an education that was typically reserved for males at the time. These three factors- the absence of her mother, the closeness to the male figures in her life, and the fact that she was educated- made her more outspoken than most women in the 19th century. The family lived in Cincinnati for some time where they became actively involved with the underground railroad. Geographically, Cincinnati was of course the dividing line between North and South, or between the slave states and the free North. While she was already married and no longer living in Cincinnati when the fugitive slave act was passed in 1850, the act played a role in her decision to write Uncle Tom's Cabin. Her abolitionist stance and resulting activism was at all times driven by her religious education and upbringing.

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Uncle Tom's Cabin

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