Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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March 19th
The Book That Helped End Slavery
Sometimes printed words affect history. One of those times came in March 1852 with the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a novel Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote to call attention to the evils of slavery.

The book hit America like an earthquake. Written at a time when the Fugitive Slave Law lacerated consciences throughout the North, it created unforgettable characters such as poor Eliza, the young slave woman who races across the frozen Ohio River toward freedom, clutching her infant at her breast. Stowe took care to depict Southern slave owners with charity. She showed them trapped in a system they did not devise. The worst villain of the book is the vicious plantation owner Simon Legree, a transplanted Yankee. Even so, many Southerners reacted with rage. The book was banned in many Southern communities.

In our time “Uncle Tom” has become a term of abuse, referring to a black man who is obsequious toward whites. But Stowe’s Uncle Tom is a dignified, courageous man who suffers a beating until he dies rather than give up the whereabouts of two runaway slaves. The story moved millions of Americans, especially evangelicals of the North, and helped convince them that slavery in the United States must end. In England, Queen Victoria wept over the book.

It is said that when Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1862, during the Civil War, he said, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!” Certainly, Uncle Tom’s Cabin did not start the Civil War, but it did much to help end slavery in America. The book has been translated into dozens of languages and has sold millions of copies. Since its publication, it has never been out of print.

American History Parade
1831
Edward Smith steals $245,000 from the City Bank in downtown New York, the first recorded bank robbery in American history.

1916
The first U.S. air combat mission begins as the First Aero Squadron takes off from Columbus, New Mexico, in an expedition to catch Pancho Villa.

1952
The one millionth Jeep, originally produced as a “general purpose” vehicle for the U.S. Army, is manufactured.

1979
The U.S. House begins televising its day-to-day business on C-SPAN.

2003
An American-led coalition launches a war against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, with air strikes on Baghdad.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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