What was the significance of Uncle Tom's Cabin?
Uncle Tom's Cabin was an extraordinarily important novel in the nineteenth century. It was the best-selling novel of the century in both the United States and in Europe. Not only is it credited with bringing the abolition movement to a new pitch of intensity in the call for the immediate end to slavery in the United States, it is credited with ending serfdom (a form of slavery) in Russia (see David S. Reynolds Mightier than the Sword).
Uncle Tom's Cabin spawned popular stage productions that visited small towns in the U.S., and, through a children's version of the novel, influenced young people well into the twentieth century. Charles Dickens, who also liked to write about social issues, said he wished he had written it.
Uncle Tom's Cabin is unabashedly a novel of sentiment. By creating sympathetic slaves, such as Eliza, who must make a dangerous journey across ice to save her four-year-old son from being sold to the strong and Christian Uncle Tom, the novel depicts slavery as seen from the point of view of the slave. Stowe made the plight of the slave real and relatable to white people, who could easily imagine themselves in the same position and suffering the same harm as Stowe's enslaved characters. Her novel is a textbook example of a way a work of literature can have significant social and political impact.
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Uncle Tom's Cabin was a book written by Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1852. The publication of the book, and the response to it, are credited with helping to bring about the Civil War. In fact, Abraham Lincoln is supposed to have called Stowe the "little woman who wrote the book that made this great war." Whether he actually said it or not, this sums up the way the book is seen.
Stowe's book made many Northerners feel very angry about slavery and the South. It made them feel a great deal of sympathy for the plight of slaves such as the ones portrayed in the book. Because of this, it became a huge bestseller. This wave of support made people in the South angry and distrustful. These reactions to the book helped to drive the North and South farther apart, making the Civil War more likely to occur.