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Harriet Beecher Stowe

Important Terms, People and Events

General Summary

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Terms

Abolitionist Movement  -   · A social movement organized in the North to abolish the institution of slavery, upon which the economy of the South depended. The movement was strongest, and gained most of its influence, during the three decades preceding the Civil War
Confederacy -   · The term used to describe the government established by the Southern states that had seceded from the Union. Its president was Jefferson Davis, and it was dissolved after the South's surrender at Appomattox.
Industrial Revolution -   · The social and economic upheaval that went along with the transition from an agriculturally based economy to one based more on machinery and factories. The industrial revolution took place mainly from 1860–1890 in New England, as Southern states were rebuilding their devastated cities after the Civil War.
Popular sovereignty -   · A doctrine promoted by Stephen Douglas in which the legality of slavery in U.S. territories not yet states is determined by settlers living there. It was utilized as a way of appeasing both sides of the slavery debate. It was ambiguous, however, since people disagreed at which point in a territory's development this decision should be made.
Presbyterian  -   · The Christian denomination into which Harriet Beecher Stowe was born, Presbyterianism embodies Calvinist principles and opposes state interference in ecclesiastical affairs.
Underground Railroad -   · A loose organization of Northern abolitionists and free blacks who harbored runaway slaves and facilitated their escape from slavery to freedom in Northern industrial cities, or in Canada. During the mid-nineteenth century, harboring a runaway slave was a federal offense, and the Underground Railroad a subversive organization. After the Dred Scott decision in the Supreme Court, many of the Beecher siblings became active participants in the Underground Railroad.
Women's suffrage -   · During the mid to late nineteenth century, the idea of women's rights and the right for women to vote was almost comical to both men and women in America. However, earlier pioneers of women's suffrage-a woman's right to vote-were impassioned and, by necessity, courageous. Stowe's sister Isabella was a suffragist.

People

Catharine Beecher  -  Catharine Beecher, born in 1800, was the eldest of the Beecher children. A pioneer in field of women's education, Catharine founded one of the first schools for young women in Hartford, Connecticut in 1824. When the Beechers moved to Cincinnati, she founded another school there. Before she died, she'd found and build a number of institutions of higher learning for women. Despite her fervent belief in education for women, she opposed women's suffrage. She died in 1878.
Henry Ward Beecher  -  Born in 1813, Harriet Beecher Stowe's favorite brother, Henry Ward, was the second most famous Beecher in America–which meant he was very well known indeed. Considered one of the most famous clergymen in American history, Henry Ward Beecher was, like his sister, a fierce opponent of slavery and a proponent of women's rights. He died in 1887.
Isabella Beecher  -  Harriet Beecher Stowe's youngest sister (half-sister) and an early pioneer for women's rights
Lyman Beecher  -  Lyman Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe's father, was a complex man-on the one hand a very strict and conscientious Presbyterian who was a firm teetotaler, but on the other hand was considered so socially liberal by his Cincinnati congregation that he was tried for heresy.
John Brown  -  A famous abolitionist who favored emancipation of the slaves through force, he led the legendary raid at Harper's Ferry on October sixteen, 1859. He, along with twenty-one followers, captured the U.S. arsenal at Harper's Ferry in Virginia. A company of U.S. Marines, led by Robert E. Lee, regained control of the arsenal and Brown was wounded in the scuffle. The event startled the South and Brown's placid demeanor during his trial won him fans in the North. When he was hanged at Charlestown on December 2nd, 1859, he was, to many in the North, a martyr.
Lord Byron -  One of Harriet Beecher Stowe's favorite poets as a young girl, Lord Byron is, along with Keats and Shelley, considered one of the best of the Romantic poets. He was, also, a brilliant satirist. His personal life sometimes eclipsed his considerable talents-his alleged affair with his half sister, Augusta Lee, was a source of great pain to Harriet Beecher Stowe's great friend and Byron's ex- wife, Lady Byron. Her decision to reveal this transgression-supposedly kept a secret for many years by Lady Byron-was disastrous.
Lady Byron -  Anne Isabella Milbanke was a famous recluse by the time Harriet Beecher Stowe met the famous poet's widow during a visit to England in 1856. The two women became extremely close and, for the rest of her life, Harriet Beecher Stowe felt it her duty to defend Lady Byron from criticism, most notably from one of Byron's many mistresses, Countess Teresa Guiccioli, who wrote about her affair with Byron and denigrated Lady Byron in the process.
Charles Dickens  -  Charles Dickens, arguably the most popular novelist of the nineteenth century, was a respectful fan of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Frederick Douglass -  One of the most famous escaped slaves in U.S. history. His successful escape from slavery in 1838 was documented in his famous book, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, which was published in 1845. After gaining his freedom, he became a vocal abolitionist and, during the Civil War, helped to organize two black regiments in Massachusetts. After the war, he became, among other things, the U.S. Minister to Haiti and and secretary of the Santo Domingo Commission. He died in 1895.
George Eliot -  George Eliot was the pseudonym of Marian Evans, a gifted English novelist who, like George Sand, was not part of genteel English society due to her lifestyle choices. She was a fan of Harriet Beecher Stowe's work and, despite the fact that she, like Sand, lived openly with a man who was not her husband and denounced organized religion, Stowe did meet her, and the two became fast friends.
Samuel Foote -  Harriet's favorite uncle, the brother of Roxana Foote.
Abraham Lincoln  -  The sixteenth president of the United States, Lincoln oversaw what could be described as the most difficult period in American history. Lincoln's election in 1860 was the cue the South needed to begin seceding from the Union. He was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April fourteen, 1865.
George Sand -  George Sand was the pseudonym of French novelist Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin. A prodigious and controversial author-controversial for her lifestyle more than for her works-George Sand was a great admirer of Harriet Beecher Stowe's work. However, Stowe's French hosts refused to set up a meeting between the two authors because Sand was a social outcast due to her many public affairs with famous men such as Chopin, and her tendency to wear men's clothes. She was a critic of the double standard afforded men in eighteenth century France.
Calvin Ellis Stowe  -  Calvin Stowe, Harriet Beecher's husband, was a famous Biblical scholar, who specialized in sacred literature. Always supportive of his wife, he found his own literary success in 1868 with his bestseller Origin and History of the Books of the Bible, written at his wife's prompting.
Charles Stowe  -  Calvin and Harriet's youngest son. He wrote his mother's biography in 1887.
Eliza Tyler Stowe  -  Calvin Ellis Stowe's first wife and one of Harriet's closest friends.
Frederick William Stowe  -  Calvin and Harriet Stowe's second son, a decorated Civil War soldier. Disappeared in 1870.
Eliza Stowe  -  Calvin and Harriet's eldest daughter–had a twin named Hattie.
Harriet Stowe  -  Second half of Calvin and Harriet's twin daughters.
Henry Ellis Stowe  -  Calvin and Harriet Stowe's first son. Died at the age of seventeen.
Georgiana Stowe  -  Calvin and Harriet's second daughter.
Mark Twain -  Born Samuel Clemens in 1835 in the sleepy Mississippi river town of Hannibal, Missouri, Mark Twain became one of America's favorite writers. He was Harriet Beecher Stowe's next-door neighbor in Hartford, Connecticut during the last years of her life, and was a congenial visitor who cheered her with his jokes. His masterpiece, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, published in 1884, is considered by many to be the first modern American novel.

Events

Civil War -  Conflict between the Northern union and the Southern states, which seceded and formed the Confederacy. The war lasted from 1861 to 1865 and was one of the bloodiest conflicts in U.S. history, with over 600,000 deaths.
Dred Scott Case  -  Officially, Scott v. Sanford, this case was argued before the United States Supreme Court in 1856–1857. Dred Scott, a slave from Missouri, accompanied his master to Illinois and then to the Wisconsin territories, where slavery was illegal. When his master died, Scott sued his master's widow for his and his family's freedom, stating that because he was in a free state, he was no longer a slave. The Supreme Court ruled against Scott, deciding, in the process, that Congress had no power to prohibit slavery in new states and territories.
Emancipation Proclamation -  Signed by Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862, and put into effect January 1, 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation put an end to slavery in the United States. In its wake, huge numbers of freed slaves migrated to Northern cities.
Battle of Gettysburg  -  A series of bloody battles in June and July of 1863 during the Civil War. The Union Army lost 23,000 men in the battle and the Confederacy lost 25,000.
Kansas-Nebraska Act  -  A bill passed by Congress on May 30, 1854 by which the Kansas and Nebraska territories became states. It intensified the slave debate in America because it directly contradicted provisions in the Missouri Compromise, which barred the extension of slavery into new states. The legality of slavery, according to this new law, would be decided by "popular sovereignty", or by the inhabitants of the territory.
Lincoln-Douglas Debates -  A series of seven debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. At stake was the question of extending slavery into the newly admitted states-notable, Nebraska and Kansas. Lincoln firmly opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which left the decision about whether or not slavery should be legal in the hands of the settlers of that state. Douglas, who supported this bill, called this concept popular sovereignty. Lincoln's success in these debates opened the door for him to capture the presidential election of 1860.
Mexican War -  Conflict between the U.S. and Mexico between 1846 and 1848, sparked by the U.S. annexation of Texas in December 1845.
Nat Turner Rebellion -  Also called the Southampton Insurrection, this slave insurrection was led by a Virginia slave named Nat Turner in 1831. Turner, who believed himself meant by God to lead the rebellion, planned a revolt along with about sixty other slaves. The group killed Turner's owner's family and then went on to kill fifty-five other whites. It led to a tightening of the existing slave laws in the South and ended any hope of success for the burgeoning abolitionist movement there.
Panic of 1837 -  A financial crisis brought on by speculation and reckless financial dealings in the Western territories.
1850 Compromise -  A series of legislative measures meant to assuage Southern fears that slavery was on the way out, and to satisfy Northern anti-slavery forces that slavery was not going to be extended. Under this compromise, California was admitted as a free state, New Mexico and Utah territories were organized without mention of slavery-to be determined by popular sovereignty-and the prohibition of slavery in the newly organized District of Columbia. In addition, the fugitive slave laws were made more inflexible.

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