Why was Uncle Tom's Cabin so significant?

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Legend has it that when Lincoln met Stowe and credited her as being the "little lady" who essentially started the Civil War, it served as a testament to the enduring power of literature. Stowe's work is one of the best examples of how writing is never "just words." Uncle Tom's Cabin demonstrates that words matter.

Stowe understood the context in which she wrote her novel. She recognized the issue of slavery and its implication in the development of the nation. Stowe embraced her position as an abolitionist. The growth of her work cannot be divorced from the social context that it reflects. Stowe's work is the embodiment of her contribution to the cause of social activism. In this light, her work affirms how literature is powerful. It is more than just writing or the creation of art, elements which are powerful in their own right. Rather, literature is meant to commit individuals to a particular point of view and provide a frame of meaning. Literature can address who individuals are and what they can do. It seeks to transform what can be from what is. Stowe's work, the reaction both to it and against it, and its place in American literature and history are all examples of the power that literature possesses.

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