Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Back in the day on March 20th, 1857, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” was published. Stowe, a white woman, became motivated to write her most recognized work after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. The novel, which was to become second only to sales of the Bible in the 19th century, attempted to illustrate the evils of the institution of slavery by contrasting the goodness of Uncle Tom, a slave, with the cruelty of his master Simon Legree. Defenders of slavery in South were angered by Stowe’s account and deemed it a work of slander. If Stowe’s detractors sought to persuade her to the supposed benevolence of the institution, they sure chose an odd way of displaying it when they sent a severed ear of a slave to the writer in a package.
However well meaning Stowe was in writing “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” the anti-slavery novel nevertheless created and popularized stereotypes of African-Americans such as mammies and pickaninnies – all of which I’m sure the former mayor of Los Alamitos Dean Grose would claim to be unaware of!