Quotes from The Novels of Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe 1855 portrait by Francis Holl

Harriet Beecher Stowe, (1811 –1896) author of the iconic anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), supported herself, her children and her husband with her literary talent.  Following is a selection of quotes from the novels of Harriet Beecher Stowe, a modest author who changed the world with her words.

Stowe came from the Beecher family, a progressive group of siblings who supported her efforts. She was also blessed with the privilege of education, a rarity for women of her time.

At age 39, still in the midst of tending to her large family, Stowe found a way to disseminate the story she had long wanted to tell. She hoped that though storytelling, public awareness of the horrors of slavery would grow and shift national consciousness.

Thus, she began by publishing monthly installments of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in an abolitionist newsletter. With each issue, public interest built.

Stowe was first American author whose book could claim the distinction of “international best seller” — not just the first female author, but the first author ever. And yes, her book, which sold not only in the states but abroad, was a decisive factor in the fight for abolition of slavery. 

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Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)

“I did not write it. God wrote it. I merely did his dictation.” (Introduction to the 1879 edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin)

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“The object of these sketches is to awaken sympathy and feeling for the African race, as they exist among us; to show their wrongs and sorrows, under a system so necessarily cruel and unjust as to defeat and do away the good effects of all that can be attempted for them, by their best friends, under it.” (Author’s preface from Uncle Tom’s Cabin)

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“For, so inconsistent is human nature, especially in the ideal, that not to undertake a thing at all seems better than to undertake and come short.” 

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“Any mind that is capable of real sorrow is capable of good.” 

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“So much has been said and sung of beautiful young girls, why don’t somebody wake up to the beauty of old women?”

 

“The longest way must have its close —  the gloomiest night will wear on to a morning.” 

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“…the heart has no tears to give, — it drops only blood, bleeding itself away in silence.” 

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“Scenes of blood and cruelty are shocking to our ear and heart. What man has nerve to do, man has not nerve to hear.” 

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“Perhaps it is impossible for a person who does no good not to do harm.” 

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“There are in this world blessed souls, whose sorrows all spring up into joys for others; whose earthly hopes, laid in the grave with many tears, are the seed from which spring healing flowers and balm for the desolate and the distressed.” 

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Harriet Beecher stowe quote from Uncle Tom's Cabin

Quotes from Uncle Tom’s Cabin 

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The Pearl of Orr’s Island, 1862

“The way to be great lies through books, now, and not through battles.” 

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“The truth is the kindest thing we can give folks in the end.” 

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“It takes years and maturity to make the discovery that the power of faith is nobler than the power of doubt; and that there is a celestial wisdom in the ingenuous propensity to trust, which belongs to honest and noble natures.” 

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“In the old times, women did not get their lives written, though I don’t doubt many of them were much better worth writing than the men’s.”

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“That ignorant confidence in one’s self and one’s future, which comes in life’s first dawn, has a sort of mournful charm in experienced eyes, who know how much it all amounts to.” 

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"Women are the real architects of society." — Harriet Beecher Stowe

8 Feminist Quotes by Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Household Papers and Other Stories (1864)

“Humankind above all is lazy.”

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“All places where women are excluded tend downward to barbarism; but the moment she is introduced, there come in with her courtesy, cleanliness, sobriety, and order.”

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“True love ennobles and dignifies the material labors of life; and homely services rendered for love’s sake have in them a poetry that is immortal.”

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“Whatever offices of life are performed by women of culture and refinement are thenceforth elevated; they cease to be mere servile toils, and become expressions of the ideas of superior beings.” 

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“To do common things perfectly is far better worth our endeavor than to do uncommon things respectably.”

 

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Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852

How Harriet Beecher Stowe was Inspired to Write Uncle Tom’s Cabin

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Other books

“Sensitive people never like the fatigue of justifying their instincts.” (Dred, 1856)

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“As oil will find its way into crevices where water cannot penetrate, so song will find its way where speech can no longer enter.”  (Dred, 1856)

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“Most mothers are instinctive philosophers.” (The Minister’s Wooing, 1859)

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“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” (Little Foxes, 1865)

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“Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserve; it is life’s undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room, from which we go forth to more careful and guarded intercourse, leaving behind us much debris of cast-off and everyday clothing.” (Little Foxes, 1865)

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“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you till it seems you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” (Old Town Folks, 1869)

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Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe page on Amazon*

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