Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Literature, Poetry, and Books

Harriet Beecher Stowe

John Miller at NRO reminded me that today is Stowe's birthday.  I think it is worth noting for both public and private purposes, and not only because she was "the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war".  She should be remembered for our own good, and Uncle Tom's Cabin was one of the first books I ever read (about age 9), and I loved it.  That the term "Uncle Tom" has been misused in our time is one of those great wrongs the world is capable of allowing.  On the other hand, there are good men trying to write that wrong, see Bill Allen's Rethinking Uncle Tom's Cabin: The Political Philosophy of Harriet Beecher Stowe, wherein he tries to reclaim his promised hero.

I read the book in Hungarian (a 1954 version), with the explicit Christian references removed by the communist regime.  But even nine year old boys understand something about freedom (and Christianity)....besides I was also reading Hucklebery Finn, and already knew something about a boy and a man on a raft on a big river talking about freedom, about ruling themselves and ruling others.  And as Huck learned from him, so did I.  The tyrants could remove references to natural rights and Christianity, as if human beings were incapable of reading between the lines.   But it turned out they were wrong, the human mind is created free, and can figure these things out on its own, along with Uncle Tom, and Jim, and Huck, and Peter.  Bless you Mrs. Stowe.

Discussions - 5 Comments

Read Uncle Tom, if you've never read it, and you'll be astonished. Read Bill Allen's commentary, and you'll be transported.

And when you done with Uncle Tom's Cabin, read the forward to Whittaker Chamber's "Witness".

Here -- http://www.teachingamericanhistory.org/podcasts/allen_09-01-24_session1.mp3 -- a good taste of Allen on Stowe and part 2 is available.

And, I am currently reading Solzhenitsyn's "Warning to the West," which addresses all of the comments the Peter made above about the human person, liberty, rights, and dignity.

NLT's good friend Keith Olbermann recently offered up this gem, also from Harriet Beecher Stowe. Its from All Things, Harriet Beecher Stowe's magazine profile of Abraham Lincoln, written in 1863.

"The revolution through which the American nation is passing is not a mere local convulsion. It is a war for a principle which concerns all mankind. It is the war for the rights of the working classes of mankind, as against the usurpation of privileged aristocracies. You can make nothing else out of it. That is the reason why, like a shaft of light in the judgment-day, it has gone through all nations, dividing to the right and the left the multitudes. For us and our cause, all the common working classes of Europe – all that toil and sweat and are oppressed. Against us, all privileged classes, nobles, princes, bankers, and great manufacturers, and all who live at ease.

A silent instinct, piercing to the dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, has gone through the earth, and sent every soul with instinctive certainty where it belongs. No sophistries could blind or deceive them; they knew that our cause was their cause, and they have suffered their part heroically, as if fighting by our side, because they knew that our victory was to be their victory. On the other side, all aristocrats and holders of exclusive privileges have felt the instinct of opposition, and the sympathy with a struggling aristocracy, for they, too, feel that our victory will be their doom."

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