June 14, 1811 Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is born on this day in Litchfield, Connecticut, the seventh child of Congregationalist minister Lyman Beecher.
Stowe studied at private schools in Connecticut and worked as a teacher in Hartford for five years until her father moved to Cincinnati in 1832. She accompanied him and continued to teach while writing stories and essays. In 1836, she married Calvin Ellis Stowe, with whom she had seven children. She published her first book, Mayflower, in 1843.
While living in Cincinnati, Stowe encountered fugitive slaves and the Underground Railroad. Later, she wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin in reaction to recently tightened fugitive laws. The book sold some 300,000 copies and did much to galvanize public opinion in the North against slavery. Stowe traveled to England in 1853, where she was welcomed as a literary hero. Along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, she became one of the original contributors to The Atlantic, which launched in November 1857. In 1863, when Lincoln announced the end of slavery, she danced in the streets. Stowe continued to write throughout her life and died in 1896.