Harriet Beacher Stowe
Harriet Elisabeth Beecher was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, on June 14, 1811. She was the sixth of 11 children  born to outspoken Calvinist preacher Lyman Beecher. Her mother was his first wife, Roxana (Foote), a deeply religious woman who died when Stowe was only five years old. Roxana’s maternal grandfather was General Andrew Ward of the Revolutionary War. Her siblings included a sister, Catharine Beecher, who became an educator and author, as well as brothers who became ministers: including Henry Ward Beecher, who became a famous preacher and abolitionist, Charles Beecher, and Edward Beecher.
Harriet enrolled in the Hartford Female Seminary run by her older sister Catharine. There she received something girls seldom got, a traditional academic education, with a focus in the Classics, languages, and mathematics. Among her classmates was Sarah P. Willis, who later wrote under the pseudonym Fanny Fern.
In 1832, at the age of 21, Harriet Beecher moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, to join her father, who had become the president of Lane Theological Seminary. There, she also joined the Semi-Colon Club, a literary salon and social club whose members included the Beecher sisters, Caroline Lee Hentz, Salmon P. Chase (future governor of Ohio and Secretary of the Treasury under President Lincoln), Emily Blackwell and others. Cincinnati’s trade and shipping business on the Ohio River was booming, drawing numerous migrants from different parts of the country, including many escaped slaves, bounty hunters seeking them, and Irish immigrants who worked on the state’s canals and railroads. In 1829 the ethnic Irish attacked blacks, wrecking areas of the city, trying to push out these competitors for jobs. Beecher met a number of African Americans who had suffered in those attacks, and their experience contributed to her later writing about slavery. Riots took place again in 1836 and 1841, driven also by native-born anti-abolitionists.
In 1833 Harriet Beecher visited her student Elizabeth Marshall Key at the Marshall Key home in Washington. The home was just a few doors away from the courthouse lawn, where slave auctions were held. Tradition holds that the sights Beecher witnessed on this visit, perhaps along with others, inspired some of the characters and scenes in Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852). The slave auction portrayed in Beecher’s chapter “Select Incident of Lawful Trade” mentions Washington and a slave auction before the “Court-house door.” (Quoted from pages 935-936 of THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NORTHERN KENTUCKY THE UNIVERSITY PRESS OF KENTUCKY ISBN 978-0-8131-2565-7)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and Great Britain, energizing anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South. Stowe wrote 30 books, including novels, three travel memoirs, and collections of articles and letters. She was influential for both her writings and her public stances and debates on social issues of the day.
- Harriet Beecher Stowe Center
- Harriet Beecher Stowe | National Women’s History Museum
- Harriet Beecher Stowe | Biography, Books, & Facts | Britannica
- Harriet Beecher Stowe – HISTORY
- HARRIET BEECHER STOWE HOUSE – Home
- The Art of Persuasion: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s …
- Harriet Beecher Stowe – Mandarin Museum & Historical Society
- Aboard the Underground Railroad– Harriet Beecher Stowe ...
- Harriet Beecher Stowe — Uncle Tom’s Cabin [ushistory.org]
Some question Washington part in the origin story of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Other than oral history, I would refer you to CHAPTER XII – “Select Incident of Lawful Trade”.
This is how the chapter describes Tom’s sale.
“EXECUTOR’S SALE,—NEGROES!—Agreeably to order of court, will be sold, on Tuesday, February 20, before the Court-house door, in the town of Washington, Kentucky, the following negroes: Hagar, aged 60; John, aged 30; Ben, aged 21; Saul, aged 25; Albert, aged 14. Sold for the benefit of the creditors and heirs of the estate of Jesse Blutchford,
Link to the complete ext of Uncle Tom’s Cabin