Uncle Tom's Cabin
In matters of art there is but one rule, to paint and to move. And where shall we find conditions more complete, types more vivid, situations more touching, more original, than in Uncle Tom?
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896)
Wilbur H. Siebert Collection.
The African-American Experience in Ohio: 1850-1920
On June 5, 1851, Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly began to appear in serial form in the Washington National Era, an abolitionist weekly. Harriet Beecher Stowe's anti-slavery story was published in forty installments over the next ten months. For her story Mrs. Stowe was paid $300.
Although the National Era had a limited circulation, its audience increased as reader after reader passed their copies along to one another. In March 1852, a Boston publisher decided to issue Uncle Tom's Cabin as a book and it became an instant best seller. Three hundred thousand copies were sold the first year, and about two million copies were sold worldwide by 1857. For a three-month period Stowe reportedly received $10,000 in royalties. Across the nation people discussed the novel and debated the most pressing sociopolitical issue dramatized in its narrative—slavery.