While a literary classic, I found Uncle Tom’s Cabin to be naively and selectively negatively conflated, stereotypically anti-Southern, a boringly hard-to-read Victorian fictional novel! But then, who am I to critique Harriet Beecher Stowe, a do-gooder, late 19th century liberal.
The book after page five, labors to a boring conclusion in the last three chapters, with a few terse encounters along the way. I think Harriet Beecher Stowe tried too hard to make her racial statement. She certainly planted the tree of divisive racism. Her colloquialisms were a bit vaudevillish, and I tired of them quickly. Perhaps Harriet Beecher Stowe could have added more sense of taste and smell to capture the reader’s senses? Ummm! Smell that cracklin’ fried chicken.
I did like Harriet Beecher Stowe’s, albeit briefly hidden in chapter 38, admission of the existence of slavery in the North well as the South. And I wonder, were the northern slave owners as pious and goodly gentle people with their slaves or were there indeed Simon Legrees in the North as well? Harriet Beecher never takes this one on. Hummm? Crickets! How convenient to her premise that the South was full blame. And you would think Harriet would have referenced the rampant black and white slavery around the world at that time, as well.
I think Harriet Beecher Stowe is wrong in depicting southerners as immoral heathens. Is not the South the seat of Christianity, the Bible Belt? “Grandma’s hands clapped in church on Sunday morning.” And, there is honor in the South. Did she conveniently ignore 90% of the good, God-fearing, hardworking, caring, non-slave owing southern population? She missed that one completely. Why would Beecher Stowe not want to bring this fact to the forefront in her book? Was she biased? Was she a racist? Wait, did she ever live in the South?
Perhaps an addendum is in order to earmark the “Negro” successes that rose up from slavery in flourished fame, success and good will among all men. What should be emphasized, is the cultural diversity that ultimately profited America by the presence of blacks; the mixing and mingling of races into one from many. The value is looking beyond race and culture to the melting pot of humanity, no malice meant for anyone. Why incite war?
Abraham Lincoln once told Harriet Beecher Stowe that her book caused the Civil War. Yes, it did sell a million copies and was the most read book in America at that time. But I don’t believe Lincoln for one minute. There were others that wanted War. Shame on them. And Shame on Stowe for playing into their hands with her stereotypical racist description of blacks and whites.
But who am I to judge. I am just a modern reader, searching for why on earth did brother fight brother in the bloodiest war in our history. Why? Slavery in the North and South was on its way out! The Confederacy would have never been. States’ rights has long since been swallowed up by cancerous big government, much to the chagrin of our Founding Father’s and our beloved Constitution. Why did it come to War? I ask one more time, a hundred years hence, why? Why must “the worst of men fight and the best of men must die” – WHY?
It is a classic, I’ll leave it at that.
Tom Tenbrunsel, PhD., September 16, 2018