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The Great American Novel? "Uncle Tom's Cabin" after a century and a half

Algis Valiunas

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THE CLOSE OF 2002 brings with it the close of the 150th anniversary of the publication of "Uncle Tom's Cabin"...No other book before or since has had so dramatic an effect on American consciousness--or American history--as Harriet Beecher Stowe's epoch-making novel.

Abraham Lincoln's famous welcome to Stowe when she came to the White House--"So this is the little lady who made this big war"--has the tang of country-boy ribbing, but it also recognizes the impact Stowe had on popular thought and sentiment about slavery. In 1852, its first year in print, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" sold 300,000 copies in the United States and 2.5 million copies around the world.

By the end of the decade Americans had bought over a million copies of the novel. In the North, her readers came to admit the worst that Stowe told them about themselves, and it is not fanciful to say that many resolved to live and die worthy of the examples of virtue she showed them.

Read the entire article on The Weekly Standard website.



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