What the Green Movement Can Learn from Uncle Tom's Cabin
What seems impossible and irreversible today (read: environmental issues) can be addressed if we're willing to step up and do the hard work...and if we're willing to stop making excuses for those who profit from our complacency. Need some inspiration? Well...let's take a look back over 150 years ago.
Widely considered to be the first social protest novel published in the United States (and the first major novel to have a black hero), Uncle Tom's Cabin sold more copies—with the exception of The Bible—than any book had ever sold in America until that point with sales reaching 300,000 copies in the first year.
Stowe's graphic depiction of slave life—based on true stories—personalized the issue, reclaiming it from the sanitized domain of courtroom legalese. Her story outraged some and inspired many others. To her critics, she answered with A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1853 to provide documentation that every incident in her book had actually happened. Upon meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1862, Abraham Lincoln allegedly remarked: "So you're the little woman that wrote the book that made this great war."
There was a time when slavery was believed too deeply entrenched in American culture to ever be abolished. The movement to end this "peculiar institution" was made up of individuals willing to recognize that some things in life are bigger than any of us. Whether they literally risked their lives by rescuing slaves and running the Underground Railroad or they did their part by sewing clothes or blankets for escaped slaves or, yes, writing books like Uncle Tom's Cabin, the movement needed every single one of these brave humans doing their part—small or large.
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