Meandering Em's

Passion is books, photography, running and traveling. Also passionate about environmental issues.

Influences of Uncle Tom's Cabin

Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom's Cabin and the Battle for America - David S. Reynolds

What does Shirley Temple, Nikolai Lenin, Mary Pickford, the boxer John L. Sullivan and Mickey Mouse all have in common?  They all were affected in some way by Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin.  I recently reread that book before I tackled this book by David S. Reynolds.  Mr. Reynolds begins by giving a short biography of Mrs. Stowe and what influenced her to write a book that was so powerful that both her friends and enemies credited her with starting the Civil War.


After the book was published, Uncle Tom's Cabin was turned into a play and traveled the USA.  More people saw the play than read the book. Both the play and the book presented the evils of slavery and showed the heartaches of the blacks in a way that touched many people.


The play was still popular for 40 years after the war ended.  The author describes how the play changed with the times.  Some productions allowed blacks to play in the shows.  The story, itself, shows the friendship between a black man and a white girl which was generally frowned upon in society.  In retaliation, the South wrote literature showing the terrible consequences of Uncle Tom's Cabin.  One of those books, The Clansman, became the film The Birth of a Nation, which rewrote the history of the South during Reconstruction.


Mr. Reynolds then show the influence of Mrs. Stowe's book in the Civil Rights movement and how the phrase Uncle Tom became an insult tossed around by blacks whenever they perceived a black person kowtowing to whites. 


I found this book fascinating.  However, it would be beneficial to read Uncle Tom's Cabin before reading this book.  Many of the characters are discussed in detail and it helps if you remember their names and their roles.

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