By Patrick Appel
In a 1867 article, while arguing for international copyright laws, James Parton wrote about the impact of Uncle Tom's Cabin:
Others talked about slavery; [Harriet Beecher Stowe] made us see it. She showed it to us in its fairest and in its foulest aspect; she revealed its average and ordinary working. There never was a fairer nor a kinder book than "Uncle Tom's Cabin"; for the entire odium of the revelation fell upon the Thing, not upon the unhappy mortals who were born and reared under its shadow. The reader felt that Legree was not less, but far more, the victim of slavery than Uncle Tom, and the effect of the book was to concentrate wrath upon the system which tortured the slave's body and damned the master's soul. Wonderful magic of genius! The hovels and cotton-fields which this authoress scarcely saw she made all the world see, and see more vividly and more truly than the busy world can ever see remote objects with its own eyes. We are very dull and stupid in what does not immediately concern us, until we are roused and enlightened by such as she. Those whom we call "the intelligent," or "the educated," are merely the one in ten of the human family who, by some chance, learned to read, and thus came under the influence of the class whom Mrs. Stowe represents.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.