Author Harriet Beecher Stowe had a tremendous impact on northern attitudes toward ending slavery. Her book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” published in 1852, became a sensation in part because it humanized slaves and focused on her readers’ emotions. It went on to sell 300,000 copies in the first year in the U.S. The novel was even more successful in Great Britain, where 1.5 million copies were sold in a year; a figure its publisher claimed was “10 times the sales of any book other than the Bible and prayer book.”
In this video adapted from American Experience: “The Abolitionists” featuring historical reenactments, students learn about the far-reaching impact of Stowe’s writings on the abolitionist movement. They will learn how Stowe’s commitment to the abolitionist cause was strengthened after passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, and how her best-seller was credited with “putting a human face on slavery” and helping launch the Civil War.