Within the book itself, the message of Uncle Tom's Cabin is clear. Slavery was fundamentally evil, corrupting everyone it touched and destroying the lives of good, pious men like Uncle Tom. The point of the book was to emphasize the horrors of slavery—its author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, was an abolitionist. Stowe's objections to slavery were based on her Christianity, and slavery in the book is in many ways the antithesis of Christian beliefs. Stowe consistently points out the hypocrisy of Christian slaveholders, and Uncle Tom's Cabin is full of biblical references that would have been readily understood by her readers. For example, after a chapter describing the New Orleans slave warehouses, and an auction that took place in one, she quotes Psalms 9:12 to warn that slaveholders, and indeed the country as a whole, faced divine punishment for the sin of slavery: "When he maketh inquisition for blood, he forgetteth not the cry of the humble!"
Read in context, Uncle Tom's Cabin offers another lesson for readers. It is an example of the power of literature and art to shape public opinion. Published in 1852, the book both played on Northern discontent with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1852 and intensified this public perception of the incident. It is probably not true that Abraham Lincoln described Stowe as the "little lady who started the big war," but certainly her book dramatized the horrors of slavery for Northerners.