“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” – impacting The Senate and The South (1853)…

September 4, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

Few can argue against the claim of Harriet Beecher’s Stowe’s Uncle Tom’ Cabin being one of the most influential books upon the 19th century… and beyond. However, many incorrectly believe the impact to have been largely upon America alone, but the reality is many European countries felt its sting long before its role in codifying anti-slavery sentiment within the United States. Scanning through newspaper reports from the early 1850’s dramatically reveal the initial polar-opposite reactions regarding its influence.

One such newspaper was the Mach 17, 1863 issue of the New-York Daily Times. The front page provides the text (except shown to the right) of the previous day’s debate on the floor of the Senate in which one senator refers its impact on England as a positive validation for his point, while another senator takes the reference to be an unjustified, gross, “miserable” insult. For those who were beginning to sense the foundation of slavery beginning to crumble, this novel would prove to be a thorn in their side for years to come.

Ironically, in case one wonders if the culture of the 1850’s was ripe for the demise of slavery, page two has a lengthy discussion on the impact of both slave and free labor on Southern Agriculture Prosperity – an excerpt which is shown below. One of the fun things about the relationship between this incredible novel and historic newspapers is that it was 1st printed in serialized form in The National Era, a newspaper out of Washington, D.C..