On this day in 1852 one of the most important American novels hit streets and caused a stir. The book written by Harriet Beecher Stowe was called “Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or Life Among the Lowly” and it would go to become the bestselling book of the 19th century. It was also the book cited by some as the cause of the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln met Ms. Stowe at the beginning of the war and was quoted as saying, “So this is the little lady who started this Great War.”

Uncle Tom’s Cabin first appeared as a 40-week serial in The National Era, beginning with the June 5, 1851, issue. Because of the story’s popularity, publisher John P. Jewett contacted Stowe about turning the series into a novel. Stowe questioned the idea questioning if anyone would read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in book form? She eventually consented to the request and Jewett. The first printing of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was 5,000 copies, which appeared in a 2 volume set. The copyright page statement “Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1851 by Harriet Beecher Stowe” and “Stereotyped by Hobart & Robbins” on the bottom of that page, later editions include additional information. The books first day sales were an amazing 3,000 copies, an amazing feat at the time. Interestingly “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” sold 300,000 copies in the first year in the United States and in Britain it sold 1,000,000 copies. By 1857 the novel had been translated into 20 languages.

Uncle Tom

The abolitionist story has been adapted for stage, screen and television and since it went back into print in 1862 has never again been out-of-print. Today the book remains part of the canon of most school lit programs and is still studied and argued over by scholars and historians. Stop by Landmark Books today and see our copies today.

Leave a Reply