In every age, people have used their talents and abilities to make a difference. Some people are natural leaders; others have substantial money. Harriet Beecher Stowe was intelligent and literary. She used her writing ability to influence others.
- Harriet Beecher Stowe was born in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1811. She was the seventh of eleven children.
- Her father was a preacher; her mother was also very religious. She died when Harriet was five.
- Books, education, and thoughtful conversation were important to Harriet’s family. She attended the Hartford Female Seminary, run by her sister Catharine. At this all-girl’s school, she studied languages, mathematics, and literature. She got a very good education, which was unusual for girls during her time.
- Her family was also very involved in social issues. They were abolitionists who were strongly against slavery.
- Harriet was part of literary society that met frequently to discuss books and ideas. Here she met her husband, Calvin Stowe, a widower and professor. They married and had seven children.
- The Stowes often gave shelter to runaway slaves headed for Canada. After the Fugitive Act of 1850 passed, helping slaves became very dangerous. Anyone caught could be severely punished.
- During that same year, Harriet began writing a story about what life was like for slaves. Her son, Charles, had recently died and she said she understood what it was to lose a loved one. She thought about all the people who lost their family members when they were taken away at slave auctions.
- Her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, became instantly popular in the North. She hoped it would help people understand how terrible slavery was. Southerners hated her and wrote stories of their own.
- Later, Harriet went to Washington D.C. to meet President Lincoln. He greeted her and said, “So you’re the little woman who started the Civil War.” Her writing had had a great impact on people.
Questions and Answers
Question: What happened to Harriet after the war?
Answer: She continued writing and was the editor of a women’s magazine for a while. She supported women’s rights too.
Watch a video about Harriet Beecher Stowe.