Grades 4 – 6: Unit 1 Harriet Beecher Stowe, Anti-Slavery Advocate and Author

Harriet Beecher Stowe is one of America’s most famous writers.  She was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, and lived in Hartford for much of her life.  Her best-known book is Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an anti-slavery novel published in 1852.  But she wrote a lot more, too, including children’s textbooks, essays, stories, poetry, hymns and more.

Born in 1811, Harriet Beecher was called “Hattie” by her seven brothers and three sisters.  Her father, a famous minister, taught his children to be actively engaged in the issues of the day.  As a teenager, Harriet attended the Hartford Female Seminary, a school for girls, runs by her older sister Catharine.  There, she practiced her writing and learned to compose essays.  Harriet was teaching at the school by the time she was 16.

In 1832, Harriet moved to Cincinnati, Ohio.  Here she continued to write, using her powers of observation and vivid imagination.  Writing allowed her to express her thoughts and beliefs publicly during a time when women were not allowed to vote or hold office.  In Ohio, she saw first-hand the workings of the institution of slavery and the public controversy surrounding it.  Harriet watched the national debate and grew increasingly outraged at the injustice of slavery.  She took up her pen to “…make this whole nation feel what an accursed thing slavery is.”

In 1851, Uncle Tom’s Cabin first appeared as a serial in The National Era, an abolitionist newspaper.  The story was published weekly leaving readers eager for the next installment.  In 1852, it was published as a book and became a best seller in the U.S., Europe, Asia and was translated into over 60 languages.  Stowe’s story changed the way many thought about slavery, and influenced the abolitionist movement leading up to the Civil War.  Uncle Tom’s Cabin made Stowe the most famous American woman in the 19th century.  Her words changed the world.

Activity:  Download our “Harriet Beecher Stowe” worksheet from the previous post to find our more information about Stowe on the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center website at

This article  correspond with Let Your Words Change the Word: A Bicentennial Celebration of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Unit 1 curriculum for grades 4 – 6.  Lessons are published weekly in the Hartford Courant from January 5 – 19.  To sign up or to find out more information, please contact Julia Baldini, Program Coordinator at


About stowestudents

Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War. The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.

Posted on January 12, 2011, in Curriculum: Grades 4-6. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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