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Uncle Tom's Cabin

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by

Nina Hall

on 11 March 2016

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Transcript of Uncle Tom's Cabin

Harriet Beecher Stowe
What do we already know?
Historical Connections
EVERYTHING!

In particular:
Slavery in the South around 1850, just after the
Fugitive Slave Act
was made stricter because of the
Compromise of 1850.

Northern attitudes

Escape routes

Arguments for and against slavery

The "solution" to slavery

Slavery in the South, 1850
The book depicts slavery at its worst, but also at its best...
Influence
"The book sold 10,000 copies in its first week and 300,000 in its first year" (Claybaugh, back cover).

It was the 2nd best-selling book of the 19th century.
A Book Analysis by Ms. Nina
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Considered one of the most influential books ever written because of its effect on the anti-slavery movement.
Mr. Adolph is the valet for Mr. Saint Clare, a kind white master (Mas'r) who "spoils" his slaves.
(p. 161)
Overview
Uncle Tom's Cabin
is a novel that features 6 main story lines, mostly of slaves, but also of slave owners, bounty hunters, and abolitionists.

The thread that ties together these stories is Tom, a strong, organized, and pious slave who people lovingly refer to as Uncle Tom.
http://www.navyandmarine.org/ondeck/1862blackinblue.htm
https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/7691479_black-memorabilia-tintype
http://bjws.blogspot.com/2015_11_24_archive.html
At it's best...
Justification #2:
Black people are better off slaves than not.
Text-to-Text Connection: James Henry Hammond's "Cotton is King" speech
http://www.clevelandcivilwarroundtable.com/articles/society/slavery_founders.htm
The Atlantic:
"What This Cruel War Was Over" (p. 7)
Connection to Uncle Tom's Cabin
"Why, Tom, don't you think, for your own part, you've been better off than to be free?
" (p. 302).
http://utc.iath.virginia.edu/interpret/exhibits/morgan/morgan.html
At its worst...
Simon Legree is the ultimate antagonist of the novel. He is a ruthless slave owner who, on principle, works his slaves to death. (p. 335)
Justification #3:
Slavery is the engine of American economic growth.
Text-to-text connection:
Time on the Cross
http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/09/economic-history-2
Facts:
The slave trade made many people (men) rich:
slave traders
sugar plantation owners
cotton plantation owners & exporters
ship builders & seamen
Unconfirmed:
Just how rich?

"Facts" vary. Some say the South's cotton industry made up 25% of the world's cotton production, while other's say it made up 66% of the world's production!

Connection to Uncle Tom's Cabin
"I don't go for savin' [slaves]. Use 'em up and buy more, it's my way -- makes you less trouble, and I'm quite sure it comes cheaper in the end," and Simon sipped his glass.

"And how long do they generally last? said the stranger.

"Well, stout fellers last 6 or 7 years; trashy ones gets worked up in 2 or 3 years. I used to have considerable trouble fussin' with 'em and trying to make 'em hold out. It was no use! Now, you see, I just work 'em straight through, sick or well. When one [slave's] dead, I buy another, and I find it comes cheaper and easier, every way."
Simon Legree in conversation with a stranger after buying Uncle Tom and several other new slaves.
p. 336
How could the stranger hear this and do nothing?
How could Simon Legree live with himself?
Questions:
Justification #4:
Slaves were considered property.
But Lincoln was right... sort of.
Text-to-text connection:
Was Slavery the Economic Engine of America?
http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/slavery-and-anti-slavery/resources/was-slavery-engine-american-economic-growth
http://www.britannica.com/event/Dred-Scott-decision
Connection to Uncle Tom's Cabin
"I hate him!" said Legree, that night, as he sat up in his bed. "I hate him! And isn't he MINE? Can't I do what I like with him? Who's to stop me, I wonder?" (p. 403)
Connection to Uncle Tom's Cabin
"The American planter is only doing, in another form, what the English aristocracy and capitalists are doing by the lower classes..."

"How in the world can the two be compared?" said Miss Ophelia. "The English laborer is not sold, traded, parted from his family, whipped."

"[The English laborer] is as much at the will of his employer as if he were sold to him. The slave-owner can whip his refractory slave to death -- the capitalist can starve him to death. As to family security, it is hard to say which is the worst -- to have one's children sold, or see them starve to death at home."
(p. 227)
St. Clare in conversation
with his cousin, Miss
Ophelia, a Northerner.
Justification #5:
The Bible says so.
"I always have supposed," said Miss Ophelia, "that you, all of you, approved of these things, and thought right -- according to Scripture."
(p. 226)
What the...??
Apparently, Canaan is believed to have settled in Africa. Therefore, the dark skin of Africans became associated with the "curse of Canaan."
http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_slav1.htm
Slave owners justified their actions further by quoting other Bible verses out of context.
Ephesians 6:5:
"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling."

Titus 2:9:
"Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect."
http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/04/12/how-the-bible-was-used-to-justify-slavery-abolitionism/
Modern Connections
The Uncle Tom Stereotype
Comprehension "Quiz"
1. What were the 4 main justifications for slavery?

2. What is the Uncle Tom stereotype?

3. How does that stereotype inaccurately represent Harriet Stowe's
Uncle Tom's Cabin
?
Justification for Slavery #1:
Black people are inferior to white people.
"Does not the Bible say, 'Obey thy master?!'"
Full transcript