Harriet Beecher Stowe is one of the most celebrated women to have ever come from the United States. Born in early 19th century United States, slavery was a cornerstone of American trade and agriculture. This was also a period when most families did not attach much importance to educating girls and women were relegated to the role of homemakers and upbringing of children. But Harriet was luckier than most girls of her time since her family believed in providing similar education for all their children without paying much attention to gender. Her father was a devoted Christian and a clergy man and this might have influenced his decision to treat her as he would his sons and probably influenced her later efforts to restore equality of the people and the abolition of slavery. One thing is clear, her writings and teachings contributed greatly to the abolitionist movements led to the eventual emancipation of the slaves.
Harriet was a very opinionated woman who did not hesitate to give voice to her views and concerns with complete disregard to the reactions her writings might evoke. Needless to say that her immense education in various subjects and the influences of great people in her life defined her intelligent discourse in diverse topics ranging from politics, nature, travel, sociology and many others (Harriet Beecher Stowe Center). This paper shall consider her view points on these topics in the hope that doing so can cast a stronger light into the mind of this great lady.
Harriet was propelled into international fame when she published her book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” But the book was a result of the monumental success her column elicited as her writing challenged the issue of slavery with resolve and courage in a manner that no woman before her had done. She felt that slavery was inhumane and against the natural laws of justice. Slaves were treated no better than animals especially in the South and Beecher felt that anyone who had a voice should not keep quiet when people committed atrocities against their fellow human beings. She demonstrate great courage, a feat which might attest to her possible believe that we must protect the vulnerable even if we endanger ourselves in the process, when she had some slaves in her house. She felt that society cannot claim to be moral and a government cannot call itself legitimate if it sanctions the oppression of some people regardless of a constitutional declaration affirming the equality of all people.
There was a time that Beecher felt confusion and great turmoil regarding her beliefs in God and she questioned how committed she was to church and God. It should be noted that most of her family members were in the service of church and God and she grew in an environment where religion and devotion were areas dear to her folks. Her education and exposure to other aspects of living might have created this turmoil as adulthood brought with it questions of where her convictions stood. Nonetheless, she reconciled her thoughts and devoted her life to God after accepting salvation. But Beecher never tried to impose her convictions on any one and felt that salvation is personal and a choice people should make for themselves. This liberal stand enabled her to meet and maintain friendship with people from all walks of life regardless of their religious inclinations. She also wrote some books, especially “Minister’s wooing” in her attempt to bring tolerance among the different religious denominations at the time. Beecher asserts that Christianity held the key to over come slavery since Christianity teaches us to embrace and love all of God’s creations (19).
Fate / Law
Harriet, as mentioned earlier, tackled several aspects of American society and life in general. She actually felt it necessary to write a book about her son who passed away as a result of a cholera outbreak. This death affected her and inspired her thoughts on fate and what we have to do to accept the inevitable and move on. One thing which one must consider while analyzing Beecher’s view point on issues is her stand on the sanctity of law. The US regime of the time passed a law prohibiting people to offer help to escapade slaves and yet Beecher disobeyed the law and assisted escapade slaves. This might be a construed to show that while she was a law abiding citizen she did not believe it ethical to blindly follow laws which went against her principles or were inhumane.
There have been ladies in history who contributed to the advancement of civilization especially during periods when women were voiceless and expected to be submissive. Beecher is one of them and her contribution to the equality of mankind will be celebrated for several generations to come. It was even rumored that when she met President Lincoln, he singled out her efforts as having contributed to the civil war. Her writings will forever embody her views which remain brilliant and revolutionary even till today (Cummings, pg 7).