John Robson’s Moments in History: “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”

Is the pen really mightier than the sword? Consider Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a novel published March 20th 1852 that had the largest single impact on the unhappy story of race relations in United States history.

March 20 is also the anniversary of the 1854 founding of the Republican Party, whose rise helped trigger the Civil War a Republican administration won, ending slavery though not discrimination. But it was Harriet Beecher Stowe’s reaching the hearts and minds of Americans, especially northern women, that made the Republican party’s rise possible by arousing public opinion against legal protection of the odious “peculiar institution”.

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  • Drunk_by_Noon

    I’m probibly going to get excoriated for this, but I rank “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” up there with “Mein Kampf”, “Communist Manifesto”, and the “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” in books that were designed to mislead the reader and corespondly resulted in countless, and mostly needless, deaths of good people.

    Slavery was going away anyways, but the book roused such fury against the people of the South, and not only slavery, that a lot of Northreners had no problem killing killing them a few years later as the book portrayed most Southreners as illiterate slave rapists that killed slaves for adopting Christanity by whipping them to death.
    Not a fan of the work myself.

    “The Planter’s Northern Bride” might be a much better contempory source, but everyone writing these books back then had an agenda.

    • That’s an interesting take, not unreasonable.

      • BillyHW

        Roots is racist too.

    • robins111

      I have to agree with your points.

    • David Murrell

      I have to disagree with you in what Mr. Robson was saying. It is true that UTC is a rather untruthful exaggeration of the slave situation in the U.S. (I come from Southern roots — North Carolina — and I have fond feelings for the South). And I support the general conservatism that the South holds. But Ms. Stowe’s intention was to write a propaganda novel to inflame the North against the South. She won that cultural war.

      But Robson’s point is that we need people to do like Ms. Stowe, and write our own novels and produce our own movies, with the same intent as Mr. Stowe. I have long felt that the conservative movement should emphasize the moral high ground in the West-vs.-Islam fight, and act as true human rights advocates (people can flame me for saying that). What would be great would be to publish a novel — akin to UTC — describing how stinking awful Muslim societies are, even if there is some exaggeration doing so.

      True, there are a few movies out there that do this, but more are needed.
      For example, a movie that depicted the honour killings of the four Muslim women, near Kingston, would be a good example of that is needed. John Robson talks about culture wars. We should attack the Islamic culture akin to what Mr. Robson is saying here.

      • Drunk_by_Noon

        As I see it, nobody reads anymore, and there are already no shortage of conservative books.
        There could be a million conservative books but the hard left that owns Hollywood and TV will never make them into movies, so I don’t think that’s a viable idea, if it ever was.
        They won’t even show Muslims as terrorists anymore.

    • Waffle

      Propaganda disguised as literary fiction is always popular. However, may I humbly suggest that you take Mein Kampf off your list — it is the most boring polemic ever written. It didn’t exactly fly off the shelves. In fact, Hitler had to make its purchase mandatory for every member of the Nazi party.

      • Drunk_by_Noon

        Mein Kampf and anything by Marx are snore worthy.
        Yes, finishing Mein Kampf is an endurance test of will.
        “WILL this book ever end?”

        I included them as examples of harmful books that the world would be better off without.
        If Hitler were half the writer Mussolini was, and he wrote for a wider audience… well, let’s just say the world is lucky.