Harriet Elizabeth Beecher was born on June 14, 1811 in Litchfield, Connecticut and raised primarily in Hartford. She was the daughter of Lyman Beecher, an abolitionist Congregationalist preacher from Boston, and the sister of renowned minister, Henry Ward Beecher. In 1832, her family moved to Cincinnati, another hotbed of the abolitionist movement, where her father became the first president of Lane Theological Seminary. There she gained first-hand knowledge of slavery and the Underground railroad. Harriet was in some ways more brilliant than either her father or brother, but as a woman she could not preach. Writing was something she could do, so when her sister-in-law urged her to put her feelings about the evils of slavery into words, she decided to write Uncle Tom's Cabin.
In 1836, Harriet Beecher married Calvin Stowe, a clergyman and widower. Later, she and her husband moved to Bowdoin College, when he obtained an academic position there. Harriet and Calvin had seven children, but some died in early childhood. Mrs. Stowe continued to write, publishing eleven other novels and numerous articles before she died at the age of eighty-five on July 1, 1896 in Hartford, Connecticut.
Uncle Tom's Cabin, which describes one perspective of life in slavery, was the first major American novel with an African-American hero. It sold more than 300,000 copies during its first year, and when Harriet met Abraham Lincoln in 1862 (during the Civil War), he reportedly greeted her, "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!"
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