What was the North's perspective on Uncle Tom's Cabin, and what were the book's effects on the North?

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Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin had a powerful effect on the north and helped sway public and political opinion against slavery. It is the highly sentimental story of Tom, a slave, and the effects that slavery have on his family. When President Lincoln met Stowe in 1862,...

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Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin had a powerful effect on the north and helped sway public and political opinion against slavery. It is the highly sentimental story of Tom, a slave, and the effects that slavery have on his family. When President Lincoln met Stowe in 1862, he supposedly said, "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war." The abolitionist Frederick Douglass also remarked on the book's powerful effect, so the novel clearly affected political opinion. 

The novel was published shortly after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, part of the Compromise of 1850. Many people in the north hated this law, which forced them to return escaped slaves to the south. Published two years after this act, Stowe's novel really resonated with public opinion in the north. The book quickly became a bestseller. Many northerner readers of the novel were persuaded that slavery was evil by connecting with the personal tragedy of slaves in a more emotional way than they could connect with abolitionist tracts and political speeches. Other northerners who were already abolitionists thought that Stowe could have been more forceful in calling for an immediate end to slavery and that the character of Tom in the novel could have been more actively and adamantly opposed to slavery. Southerners were critical of the novel, as they thought Stowe had little actual familiarity with slavery (and they were invested in defending slavery), and the book was banned in the south.

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