Uncle Tom

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Excerpt from the Autobiography of Nathaniel Southgate Shaler, who was born February 20, 1841 in Newport.  He was Richard Southgate's grandson.

"In 1852 Uncle Tom's Cabin, an antislavery novel written by Harriett Beecher Stowe appeared.  I well remember the excitement it created among my own people; the irritation was the greater because it was believed that Mrs. Stowe, who lived for a time in Cincinnati, had drawn her characters from people in some way known to her who dwelt on my side of the river.

It was believed that her picture of St. Clare, the gentle slaveholder, was drawn from my grandfather, while Legree was sketched from a neighbor whose character and history fitted well to that villain.  The incident of  Eliza's flight across the river over the fields of floating ice probably came from a tradition which was current as far back as I remember, certainly as early as 1847.

In place of accepting the literary coincidences as a compliment, they were taken in high dudgeon.  In that remote age, there had been little experience with newspaper reporters, and while not much was private, it was esteemed a gross offence to put a man in print in that fashion."

Note: Local historians also state that Mrs. Stowe spent some time at the home of Elijah Herndon in California near the Ohio River.

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