Just finished reading Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, from the 1840’s. The copy I read was printed in 1929. This is actually a very good book. I was expecting a sob story, I think. Instead, it’s an action-packed adventure, shifts us from one set of characters to another very easily, takes us from Kentucky to Ohio to New Orleans to Canada.
Not preachy. Presents the facts of slavery through the characters, and lets us draw our own conclusions. It’s clear from history that reading this book was the first time many Northerners had ever looked straight on at slavery, past the myths about happy families being together and serving the gentle massa with gratitude.
I loved the daily life presentations in the book, particularly of the practical and calm Quakers. And there are Simon Legrees walking around in the world today – folk who think to be big they have to stand on top of others, and get there in any way possible.
It was fun to find out who little Eva really was, to get to know Uncle Tom – a real man of principle, to get acquainted with the rowdy Topsy, to run so fast over that ice with Eliza.
And, lest we forget, human trafficking still exists, right here in River City and around the world. And those doing the trafficking make the same arguments slave holders and slave traders made back in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s day.
We can all be grateful that this book got written, and helped push history along. And I’m glad it’s still a great book to read in the 21st century. Let’s hold the thought that human trafficking is long gone by the 22nd century.