Uncle Tom's Cabin "I 'spect I Growed"
by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Uncle Tom's Cabin book cover
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"I 'spect I Growed"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Like all the Beechers of New England, the daughter of the Reverend Lyman Beecher was enthusiastic about religious matters and the improvement of humanity. In 1836, she married Professor Calvin Stowe, and aided runaway slaves through her Cincinnati, Ohio, station of the "Underground Railroad." From these fugitives and from her brothers in New Orleans, she learned of the cruelty of slavery. So she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin or Life Among the Lowly, published serially in an abolitionist newspaper, The National Era (June, 1851–April 1852). The work appeared as a novel in 1852 with 300,000 copies sold the first year. Immediately dramatized by G. L. Aikin, and by many others, it was continually performed for almost a century. Though lacking in literary merit, and absurdly sentimental, the novel played an important part in preparing for the American Civil War, and was a powerful factor in preventing the Confederacy from obtaining in Europe full recognition as an independent nation. President Lincoln, meeting her for the first time, exclaimed: "Is this the little woman that sparked this great war?" Topsy, who supplies much of the comedy in the many stage versions, is introduced in Chapter 20. She is an eight-year-old Negress whom St. Clare has bought for Miss Ophelia to educate. Her new mistress starts questioning the slave, whose name may have been suggested by the expression "topsy turvy."

"Have you ever heard anything about God, Topsy?"
The child looked bewildered, but grinned, as usual.
"Do you know who made you?"
"Nobody as I knows on," said the child, with a short laugh.
The idea appeared to amuse her considerably; for her eyes twinkled, and she added.
"I'spect I grow'd. Don't think nobody never made me."