Chapters one through nine carry us through the first part of the novel, which is focused on the Shelby estate in Kentucky. There we are introduced to Uncle Tom, a husband and father of young children. Because the Shelbys, especially Mrs. Shelby, are "good" slaveowners, Tom and his family are treated well and have their own cabin. Tom is physically and morally strong.
However, because of Mr. Shelby's debts, Tom must be sold. So must the young son of the maid, Eliza. Rather than have her four-year-old son Harry sold away from her, Eliza flees with him. She makes a dramatic crossing across the Ohio River, jumping from ice floe to ice floe. She is helped by the Birds in Ohio, despite Mr. Bird having just voted for legislation making it illegal to help an escaping slave.
Tom grieves leaving his family but does not run away, knowing that if he does, others will be sold instead to settle the debts. This section shows how uncertain life is even for slaves in relatively "good" situations. They are property and can be sold at any time.