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Title page from "Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly"
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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In 1850 Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act, causing a furor among Northerners since it legally forced all citizens to pursue runaway slaves and return them to their owners. In response, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote "Uncle Tom's Cabin" which portrayed slaves with human qualities and Christian ideals. This challenged her readers to reexamine their definitions of Christianity and the role of slavery in a Christian society. She further described the horrors of slavery and examined the negative moral impact to both Northerners and Southerners. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" became one of America's all-time best sellers, selling 300,000 copies in the first year. It is credited with keeping slavery as a central national issue in the years preceeding the Civil War. When President Lincoln met Stowe in 1863, he was reported as saying, "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war."
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