Harriet Beecher was born June 14, 1811. She was the seventh child of a famous protestant preacher. Harriet and Catharine worked together teachers. In 1833 Harriet produced her first publication: a geography for children , under her sister's name. In 1836, Harriet married widower Calvin Stowe and together they had seven children. Stowe helped to support her family financially by writing for local and religious periodicals. During her life, she wrote poems, travel books, biographical sketches, and children's books, as well as adult novels. She loved to corresponded with people to include Lady Byron, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and George Eliot. She died in Hartford Conneticut at the age of eighty five.
Harriet Beecher Stowe is most widely known for her first, Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) although she wrote a minimum of ten adult novels. Uncle Tom's Cabin began as an extremely controversial serial for the Washington anti-slavery weekly, the National Era, and focused public interest on the issue of slavery. In writing the book, Stowe drew on her personal experiences. She often spend time on slave plantations that friends of her family owned. The death of her child inspired Stowe to understand the great sorrow enslaved people suffered. She quickly became a celebrity, speaking against slavery both in America and Europe. Many critics tried to discredit her work. In response Harriet wrote A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin (1853) documenting the realities on which the book was based. She also published a second anti-slavery novel, Dred in 1856. The claim that President Lincoln, greeted her as "the little lady who made this big war" (Civil War) has little validity and is viewed as a legend. Caroline Norton was one social reformist that respected and drew upon her work.
The political aspects of Stowe's antislavery publications has unfortunately overshadowed the significance of her other work. Many categorize her work as uneven. At its worst, it indulges the over romantic Christian audience of her time while at her best, Stowe was a early and effective realist. Her settings are often accurately and detailedly described. Her ability to portray the subtleties of society even in the smallest of characters attests to her talents as a writer. In her commitment to realism, and her serious narrative use of local dialect, Stowe predated works like Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn by 30 years, and influenced later regionalist writers including Sarah Orne Jewett and Mary Wilkins Freeman.
The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is a nonprofit educational institution that operates the restored Harriet Beecher Stowe House and the Stowe-Day Library. The Center's program series focuses on social issues, such as race relations and women's roles, that interested Stowe and her circle. The Center is located at 71 Forest Street in Hartford, CT.
I Did Not Like That!
a storytelling by
Mary Stewart Bargar
I went and studied at the University that my sister Catherine founded. Because of her I read great novels, and learned about many people in the world who wanted all of us to be free and equal. No matter what color your skin was, no matter if you were a man or woman.
When I married and had children I was expected to cook and clean and not make time for my writing. My writing was what I loved more than anything else in the world. I DID NOT LIKE THAT. I never stopped writing!
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST? WHAT IF IT WAS TAKEN AWAY?
When one of my children died, I was crushed, I cried and cried for days. I DID NOT LIKE THAT. I forgot how to be happy. This made me think of something awful, truly awful. I use to visit the plantations of my families friends in the south as a girl. They had beautiful homes. Many people took care of the homes and us. I realized that they were not allowed to speak , have an opinion or play with us. I realized the meaning of the word slave. Because they had dark skin we were allowed to own them as a piece of property. I think they must have felt as bad as I do now that my child died. I DID NOT LIKE THAT.
I decided to write about it. I wrote for hours. I wrote for days. I wrote for months. Then something truly amazing happened. People read what I wrote and agreed with me, Harriet Beecher Stowe, a woman. My first really popular book was Uncle Tom's Cabin. Remember I told you how my child died and it made me think about the horrible way people were made slaves, well I wrote a book and called it Uncle Tom's Cabin. I wanted the whole world to know it was wrong to enslave anyone. I DIDN'T LIKE THAT.
You see it was very unusual for a woman to be listened to in my day. They not only wrote to me but many people visited me and talked with me and soon we had groups of people, of woman who wanted to change things. So we helped each other write and publish and earn the respect that men were given. And guess what I REALLY LIKED THAT!
Lesson: The Plan of Action
Time: Week 4
Intelligences: Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Verbal /Linguistic
Objective: Creation of an action plan to effect a change in the school
Once you have delivered the storytelling of Harriet Beecher Stowe entitled,
I Didn't Like That!
have your students brainstorm things they don't like. Ask them if there is anything they don't like at school. Post all their ideas on large sheets of paper. Now they are ready to identify and group similar concerns. As the list is condensed ask them how they may effect a change on any of the problems they have generated. The conversation will begin to revolve around specific problems. The students must now chose one to address in depth.
I avoid voting at all costs. Here is the forum to hone skills in consensus. It may take one meeting or it may take five meetings for the group to agree on one problem to tackle, but the process is the most important step.
Outline the elements of an action plan to the class:
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
CHANGE YOU WOULD MAKE
THE ORDER IN WHICH THE CHANGE NEED TO HAPPEN
HOW WILL YOU DOCUMENT THE CHANGE
Post your action plan in a prominent area of the room so it can be referred to on a regular basis and progress charted.
Remind your students of how Harriet Beecher Stowe addressed many problems she faced, through her writing. Keep a class and/or individual journals of each step of the change process. These journals will be an invaluable tool for final documentation of the change process.
The ability of the group to come to consensus and the completed action plan will serve as authentic assessment tools.