Fanaticism In The Fifties- Uncle TomS Cabin

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Irreconcilable differences may lead to emotional responses. This was the case with Uncle Tom’s Cabin, written in 1852. The mid-1800s were years of tremendous sectional and slavery-related turmoil. The Northern states experienced growing activity in the abolitionist movement and the opposition of slavery expanding into the West. The South, deeply rooted in tradition, upheld its convictions about the necessity of slavery. Various attempts at compromise between the two sections were made, including the Compromise of 1850 and the controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act. Both of these, however, failed to settle disputes, and in reality they only raised more questions about the South’s peculiar institution. In response to the punishing of runaway slaves under the Fugitive Save Act of 1850, Northern teacher and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe penned the widely successful Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In its first year of publication, it managed to sell 300,000 copies to Northerners and Southerners alike. It greatly appealed to Northern abolitionist sentiments while simultaneously angering Southerners, who felt insulted by the general characterizations of them made in Stowe’s book. In the North, abolitionists regarded Uncle Tom’s Cabin as further rationale for anti-slavery activism. The book instilled into Northerners a stereotypical view of Southern plantation owners as cruel, demoralizing, and greedy whip-wielding masters. Simon Legree, the novel’s antagonist slave driver, became the archetypal Southern figure for whom Northerners felt much contempt. Northerners, relying much more on industry than agriculture, had for a long time been against slavery as a violation of human rights and as a waning economic practice overdue to become obsolete in the United States. Uncle Tom’s Cabin intensified these ideas through its emotional portrayal of black slaves as sufferers to evil white men.

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