"To do common things perfectly is far better worth our endeavor than to do uncommon things respectably." -- Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe (June 14, 1811 — July 1, 1896) was an American abolitionist and author. Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) depicted life for African-Americans under slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and United Kingdom and made the political issues of the 1850s regarding slavery tangible to millions, energizing anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South. Upon meeting Stowe, Abraham Lincoln allegedly remarked, "So you're the little lady who started this great war!" The quote is apocryphal; it did not appear in print until 1896, and it has been argued that "The long-term durability of Lincoln's greeting as an anecdote in literary studies and Stowe scholarship can perhaps be explained in part by the desire among many contemporary intellectuals ... to affirm the role of literature as an agent of social change."
"A man builds a house in England with the expectation of living in it and leaving it to his children; we shed our houses in America as easily as a snail does his shell.""A woman's health is her capital.""All places where women are excluded tend downward to barbarism; but the moment she is introduced, there come in with her courtesy, cleanliness, sobriety, and order.""Any mind that is capable of real sorrow is capable of good.""Everyone confesses that exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind is the best thing for us; but most people do all they can to get rid of it, and as a general rule nobody does much more than circumstances drive them to do.""Friendships are discovered rather than made.""Human nature is above all things lazy.""I did not write it. God wrote it. I merely did his dictation.""I would not attack the faith of a heathen without being sure I had a better one to put in its place.""In all ranks of life the human heart yearns for the beautiful; and the beautiful things that God makes are his gift to all alike.""It's a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong, something the best people have always done.""Most mothers are instinctive philosophers.""Mothers are the most instinctive philosophers.""Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.""No one is so thoroughly superstitious as the godless man.""One would like to be grand and heroic, if one could; but if not, why try at all? One wants to be very something, very great, very heroic; or if not that, then at least very stylish and very fashionable. It is this everlasting mediocrity that bores me.""Perhaps it is impossible for a person who does no good to do no harm.""So much has been said and sung of beautiful young girls, why doesn't somebody wake up to the beauty of old women.""The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.""The obstinacy of cleverness and reason is nothing to the obstinacy of folly and inanity.""The past, the present and the future are really one: they are today.""To be really great in little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization.""When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.""Where painting is weakest, namely, in the expression of the highest moral and spiritual ideas, there music is sublimely strong.""Whipping and abuse are like laudanum: you have to double the dose as the sensibilities decline."
Harriet Elisabeth Beecher was born in Litchfield, Connecticut on June 14, 1811. She was the daughter of outspoken religious leader Lyman Beecher and Roxana Foote, a deeply religious woman who died when Stowe was four years old. She was the sister of the educator and author, Catharine Beecher, clergymen Henry Ward Beecher, Charles Beecher, and Edward Beecher.
Harriet enrolled in the seminary run by her eldest sister Catharine, where she received a traditionally "male" education. At the age of 21, she moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to join her father, who had become the president of Lane Theological Seminary, and in 1836 she married Calvin Ellis Stowe, a professor at the seminary and an ardent critic of slavery. The Stowes supported the Underground Railroad and housed several fugitive slaves in their home. They eventually moved to Brunswick, Maine, where Calvin taught at Bowdoin College.
In 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law, prohibiting assistance to fugitives. Stowe was moved to present her objections on paper, and in June 1851, the first installment of Uncle Tom's Cabin appeared in the antislavery journal National Era. The 40-year-old mother of seven children sparked a national debate and, as Abraham Lincoln is said to have noted, a war.Stowe died on July 1, 1896, at age eighty-five, in Hartford, Connecticut.She is buried in the historic cemetery at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.
Landmarks Related to Harriet Beecher Stowemoreless
The Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Cincinnati, Ohio is the former home of her father Lyman Beecher on the former campus of the Lane Seminary. Her father was a preacher who was greatly affected by the pro-slavery riots that took place in Cincinnati in 1834. Harriet Beecher Stowe lived here until her marriage. It is open to the public and operated as an historical and cultural site, focusing on Harriet Beecher Stowe, the Lane Seminary and the Underground Railroad. The site also presents African-American history.
In the 1870s and 1880s, Stowe and her family wintered in Mandarin, Florida, now a suburb of modern consolidated Jacksonville, on the St. Johns River. Stowe wrote Palmetto Leaves while living in Mandarin, arguably the most effective and eloquent piece of promotional literature directed at Florida's potential Northern investors at the time. The book was published in 1873 and describes Northeast Florida and its residents. In 1870, Stowe created an integrated school in Mandarin for children and adults. This was an early step toward providing equal education in the area and predated the national movement toward integration by more than a half century. The marker commemorating the Stowe family is located across the street from the former site of their cottage. It is on the property of the Community Club, at the site of a church where Stowe's husband once served as a minister.
The Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Brunswick, Maine is where Uncle Tom's Cabin was written while Harriet and Calvin lived there when Calvin worked at Bowdoin College. Although local interest for its preservation as a museum has been strong in the past, it has long been an inn and German restaurant. It most recently changed ownership in 1999 for $865,000.
The Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Hartford, Connecticut is the house where Harriet lived for the last 23 years of her life next door to fellow author Mark Twain. In this cottage style house, there are many of Beecher Stowe's original items and items from the time period. In the research library, which is open to the public, there are numerous letters and documents from the Beecher family. The house is opened to the public and offers house tours on the half hour.
In 1833, during Stowe's time in Cincinnati, the city was afflicted with a serious influenza epidemic. To avoid illness, Stowe made a visit to Washington, KY, a major Kentucky community of the era just south of Maysville, KY, staying with the Marshall Key family, one of whose daughters was a student at Lane Seminary. Slave auctions often occurred in Washington, and it is recorded that Mr. Key took her to see such an auction. It is assumed that the sight impressed itself very strongly on Stowe. The Marshall Key home still stands in Washington. Key was a prominent Kentuckian; his visitors also included Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. Numerous slaves crossed the Ohio River near Ripley, OH, some 10 miles downriver from Maysville. (Calvert and Klee, Towns of Mason County [KY], LCCN 86-62637, 1986, Maysville and Mason County Library, Historical, and Scientific Association.)