Grateful American® Foundation

Which anti-slavery novel is considered a cause of the Civil War?

June 5th

CabinJune 5, 1851 — Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” was published on this day in a weekly publication called The National Era.

An American abolitionist who wrote about the corruption of slavery, Stowe’s book had such a strong effect on its readers that it is considered by scholars to actually be one of the causes of the Civil War.

In fact, its impact led to the oft-told apocryphal tale that when President Abraham Lincoln met Stowe 10 years after the book became a classic, the president greeted her by saying, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war.”

Stowe (June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896) actually wrote 30 books, but this novel was her best known. It reached millions as a novel and play, and energized anti-slavery forces in the American North, and provoked widespread anger in the South.

Words of Wisdom

And now, said Legree, come here, you Tom. You see, I telled ye I didn't buy ye jest for the common work; I mean to promote ye, and make a driver of ye; and to-night ye may jest as well begin to get yer hand in. Now, ye jest take this yer gal and flog her; ye've seen enough on't to know how.

I beg Mas'r's pardon, said Tom; hopes Mas'r won't set me at that. It's what I an't used to, -- never did, -- and can't do, no way possible.

Ye'll larn a pretty smart chance of things ye never did know, before I've done with ye! said Legree, taking up a cowhide, and striking Tom a heavy blow cross the cheek, and following up the infliction by a shower of blows.

There! he said, as he stopped to rest; now, will ye tell me ye can't do it?

Yes, Mas'r, said Tom, putting up his hand, to wipe the blood, that trickled down his face. I'm willin' to work, night and day, and work while there's life and breath in me; but this yer thing I can't feel it right to do; -- and, Mas'r, I never shall do it, -- never!

Tom had a remarkably smooth, soft voice, and a habitually respectful manner, that had given Legree an idea that he would be cowardly, and easily subdued. When he spoke these last words, a thrill of amazement went through every one; the poor woman clasped her hands, and said, O Lord! and every one involuntarily looked at each other and drew in their breath, as if to prepare for the storm that was about to burst. Read more at

— Excerpt from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which tells about how Tom is ordered by his owner, Simon Legree, to whip another slave named Lucy because she hasn't picked enough cotton and Tom has been putting some of his pickings into Lucy's basket. Two other slaves inform Legree about this, which inspires Legree to order Tom to whip Lucy. When Tom refuses, he is punished.

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