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Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe
by Francis Holl
Biography: Where did Harriet Beecher Stowe grow up?

Harriet was born on June 14, 1811 in Litchfield, Connecticut. She grew up in a big family with five brothers and three sisters. Her mother died from tuberculosis when Harriet was just five years old. Her father, Lyman, was a minister who wanted all of his sons to be ministers as well.

Harriet loved to read as a child. One of her favorite books was The Arabian Nights. She went to school at the Hartford Female Seminary where her older sister Catharine worked. Eventually, Harriet began to teach at the school as well.

Moving to Ohio and Getting Married

In 1832 Harriet and her family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where her father became president of the Lane Theological Seminary. Harriet got another job teaching and began to write professionally.

Harriet became close friends with Eliza and Calvin Stowe. Eliza became one of her closest friends, but soon became sick and died. After Eliza's death, Harriet and Calvin fell in love and married in 1836. They eventually had seven children together including four boys and three girls.

Learning About Slavery

Growing up in Connecticut, Harriet had little contact or knowledge with the reality of slavery in the Southern part of the United States. However, Cincinnati, Ohio was just across the river from Kentucky where slavery was legal. Harriet began to see firsthand how poorly the enslaved were treated. The more she learned, the more horrified she became.

Uncle Tom's Cabin

In 1851, Harriet began writing a story about slavery. She wanted to help people in the North to understand better the realities of slavery. Initially, a new portion of the story came out each week in a newspaper called the National Era. The story became very popular and the installments were published as an entire book called Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852.

The Story

Uncle Tom's Cabin told the story about a kind enslaved man named Tom. Tom is sold a few times between enslavers until he ends up being owned by plantation owner Simon Legree. Simon Legree is an evil man who likes to beat enslaved people. Tom's kindness toward his fellow enslaved only makes Simon angrier. When two enslaved women escape, Simon tries to force Tom to tell him where they went. Tom refuses and is eventually beaten to death by Simon.


The book became a national best seller. It was not only popular in the United States, but also around the world. People in the North who had not really thought about slavery before, began to understand just how horrible it was. Many people joined the abolitionist movement as a result of reading the book. They wanted slavery outlawed throughout the United States.

The Civil War

Although there were many issues and causes to the Civil War, there is no doubt that Uncle Tom's Cabin educated people on the horrors of slavery and had an impact in helping Abraham Lincoln get elected. It was certainly one of the causes that led to the Civil War.

Interesting Facts About Harriet Beecher Stowe Activities

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