The eNotes Study Guide contains many thousands of words about every aspect of Uncle Tom's Cabin. It even contains a chapter by chapter summary of the novel. Under "References" (see link below) the following introduction describes the impact of the novel on the American people.
When Uncle Tom's Cabin burst on the American scene, first as a series of installments in the antislavery journal the National Era in 1851 and 1852 and then in 1852 as a two-volume edition published in Boston by John P. Jewett, many readers were overwhelmed by Harriet Beecher Stowe's powerful portrayal of the sufferings of slaves. Within the first eight weeks alone, sales of Uncle Tom's Cabin reached a whopping fifty thousand copies, and six months after that it had sold a quarter of a million volumes. On a scale hitherto unknown in America's publishing history, readers responded to Stowe's novel of sentiment, family, separation, and reunion.
The novel presents a somewhat romanticized and melodramatic picture of slavery in the South. Today the book is regarded as important, not for its literary merit, but for the effect it had in shaping public opinion against slavery. The novel was also influential in Europe, and eventually it was translated into every modern language, including Chinese. It has been credited with starting the American Civil War which led to the emancipation of all the Southern slaves.
There are many different summaries of Uncle Tom's Cabin in the eNotes Study Guide for this famous novel, many of them reprinted from other reference books such as Masterpieces of World Literature. Individual characters are also described and discussed.