In an age where equality was irrelevant and human cruelty was rampant, came a writer who challenged the norm and harsh reality of the world with nothing but the stroke of her feeble little pen. Her name was Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Some remember her as one of the causes of the American Civil War. Others called her a great writer and a staunch abolitionist. Either way, her literary works had a massive historical impact on American history is undeniable.
Born on the 14th of June, 1811 in Litchfield, Connecticut, Harriet was the sixth of eleven children born to Rev. Lyman Beecher and Roxanna Foote Beecher. She wasn’t the happiest growing up as she lost her mother at the young age of five. Her big sister Catherine had much of the responsibility for raising Harriet and her siblings.
Despite her hardships, Harriet always had the belief that her purpose in life was to write, and write she did. She would go on to become one of the most influential women of the 19th Century by revealing the truth about the greatest social injustice of her time, human slavery.
We take you through an adventurous look of 8 interesting facts you may not have known about the iconic ‘Harriet Beecher Stowe’.
Harriet Beecher Stowe Facts
1. She was an ardent Christian
As the daughter of a Reverend, Harriet, throughout her lifetime, committed herself to Christianity and sharing her father’s love for God.
The world may remember her as a literary figure and a social reformer, but everything she accomplished was due to her deep faith in God. From her public fight against slavery to her personal struggles, Harriet did it all through her religious views, an interesting fact about Harriet Beecher Stowe.
2. She lost her child to cholera
Harriet, in her lifetime, gave birth to seven children. Six of them were born in Cincinnati. In the summer of 1849, she lost her 18-month-old son, Samuel Charles Stowe to cholera.
The death of Harriet’s son played a big role in her empathy towards slaves. She later credited the success of her novel titled ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ to her child loss as she said it helped her understand the sorrow enslaved mothers felt when they lost their children to slavery.
3. She was against the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act
In 1850, The ‘Fugitive State Law’ was passed by Congress. The law prohibits citizens from rendering help or assistance to fugitives.
This propelled Harriet into writing to Gamaliel Bailey who was at the time, the editor of the ‘National Era’, an abolitionist newspaper. She told him of her plan to write a story about slavery and in June 1851, she released the first installment of her novel titled ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’. A fun important fact about Harriet Beecher Stowe is that her novel would go on to capture the nation’s attention and expose the effects of slavery in southern America.
4. Her novel, ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ was a best-seller
Harriet gained worldwide fame through her novel ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’. It not only made her rich but it also brought her fame. The two-volume book edition of the novel was released on the 20th of March, 1852, and It sold 10,000 copies in the U.S in just its first week and 300,000 in the first year.
In the U.K, 1.5 million copies were sold in its first year and Harriet was paid 10 cents for each copy. Harriet was said to have amassed at least $10,000 in royalties, which was at the time the highest sum of money ever received by an author from sales of a single work.
5. She may have started the American Civil War
Harriet’s expression of the struggles of black people in the southern part of America in ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ opened readers’ eyes to the harsh realities of slavery, an interesting Harriet Beecher Stowe fact. She had hoped the novel would help build empathy for enslaved individuals, and it did as more people were motivated to speak out.
Her novel aggravated the long term debate about abolition and slavery which aroused more tension between the north and south. Even the President of America, Abraham Lincoln invited Harriet to the White House after the start of the Civil War in 1862 and said: “So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this war”.
6. She campaigned for married women rights
In 1869, Harriet argued that married women were treated unfairly, and in most cases, almost as bad as slaves. She said:
“The position of a married woman is in many respects, precisely similar to that of the negro slave. She can make no contract and hold no property. In the English common law, a married woman is nothing at all.”
7. All her brothers became Christian ministers
Harriet’s father was a Reverend and a preacher who had seven sons and four daughters. He was an enthusiastic supporter of Christianity who preached against slavery. All seven of his sons would go on to follow in his footsteps by becoming ministers themselves, an interesting fact about Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Her brother Henry Ward Beecher is the most successful Beecher after Harriet. He was a minister who used his church to fight off slavery. He reportedly shipped rifles to anti-slavery settlers in Kansas and Nebraska in crates marked ‘Bibles.’
8. She has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame
The National Women’s Hall of Fame is an American Institution that was created in 1969. It inducts distinguished American women through a rigid national honors selection process. Nominations are based on the impacts and changes created by recipients that have affected the social and economic aspects of society.
Harriet was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1986 for her works in the 19th Century which led to the abolishment of human slavery and the birth of gender equality in America and the world.
This is where we bring our roundup of interesting facts about the Legendary Harriet Beecher Stowe to a close.
Harriet published more than 30 books in her lifetime but is most remembered for her anti-slavery novel ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ which exposed the horrors of human slavery. Perhaps her best saying was “I shall be a child of God and make the world a place in which all humanity can live freely and abundantly.” She did her best to live by this saying.
Harriet Beecher Stowe reportedly died of brain congestion and partial paralysis which was due to her long history of “mental trouble.” She passed away on the 1st of July, 1986 at her home in Hartford, Connecticut. Even in the modern world, her words and ideas continue to inspire others.
I hope that this article on Harriet Beecher Stowe facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Page!