American Women in History: Harriet Beecher Stowe

January 24, 2014 | Jordan Finney

You don’t have to be a politician to make a major mark on people, or go down in the history books.

Young people often first hear about Harriet Beecher Stowe in an introductory class to United States history, and they often remember her as the woman who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. But she was much more than a prolific writer—though her writing was exceptional.


Stowe was an animated leader who educated 19th century Americans about the horrors of slavery, and provided a proper defense of the Union’s naval blockade of southern slaveholding states. During her introduction to Abraham Lincoln on Thanksgiving Day, 1862, the President greeted her by saying: “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!”

If one of the most famous American presidents was moved by the example of Stowe, then we should be able to learn from her, too. Regardless of whether or not you agree with all of her political opinions, Stowe offers us a lesson in acting with unyielding resilience in the face of adversity: even a pastor’s daughter can impact the direction of an entire nation.

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