Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a book written by Harriet Beecher Stowe that was published in 1851. The two main influences that led to the creation of this book were the passing of her son from Cholera and the implement of the Fugitive Slave Law. Harriet Beecher Stowe was an abolitionist and wanted her book to discourage the use of slavery along with encouraging people to help escaped slaves.
The book begins with a slave owner named Mr.Shelby and a slave trade by the name of Mr. Haley. They’re discussing a trade of an undetermined amount of slaves Mr. Shelby will have to sell in order to pay off his debt to Mr. Haley. Mr. Shelby reluctantly ends up deciding to sell a faithful slave named Tom and a child, Harry, who is the son of Mrs. Shelby’s favorite slave, Eliza. Eliza is married to another slave, George Harris, who reveals to Eliza earlier in the day that he is escaping to Canada because of problems with his master and hopes to meet Eliza in Canada in the future. Eliza hears the conversation between Mr. Shelby and Mr. Haley and thinking Harry has already been sold, she also decides to make a run to Canada with her son.
During the night, Eliza takes off to with intent to go to Canada with her son and almost gets caught by the slave trader Mr. Haley after he followed her. However, Eliza escapes over to Ohio by using a floating piece of ice in the river. Mr. Haley sends slave catchers after Eliza and returns to Mr. Shelby’s farm to collect Tom. Tom decides not to attempt an escape to Canada because Mr. Shelby is relying on his honesty. Mr. Haley and Tom leave for the south, and along the way Tom saves a little girl, Eva, from drowning. Following this act, Eva’s father, Augustine St. Clare, purchases Tom to be Eva’s personal servant. Fortunately for Tom, Augustine St. Clare was a relatively good slave owner and didn’t treat his slaves with a lot of violence. Eva is also a nice little girl but the mother, Marie St. Clare, isn’t very generous like the previous master Mr. and Mrs. Shelby.
Over time Tom and Eva grow close together. Along with this Eva teaches a slave named Mammy to read, and helps another slave girl, Topsy, have a better life and changes her hard personality that was built from years of slavery. Eventually Eva falls sick with a sickness (Tuberculosis) and is shown to be on her deathbed. While Eva is dying, she talks to all of the slaves about the love she and God have for all of them. As a gift to help keep her remembered after she dies, Eva gives each slave a curl of her blond hair. Aside from this part of the story, Eliza and Harry are reunited with George in a Quaker camp. All of them escape to Canada without being captured, although they encountered some slave catchers on the way there.
After Eliza and her family escapes, the book goes back to Tom and the St. Clare’s farm. Following Eva’s death, Mr. St. Clare promises all of the slave their freedom. However, before completely filling out the papers, Augustine St. Clare is killed from a fight in a barroom. Because there was nothing about the slaves in his will, Marie St. Clare sends all of the slaves to be sold at an auction block. At the auction block, Tom is bought by a new master named Simon Legree. Unlike Tom’s first two master’s, Simon is very harsh, evil and violent that used excessive violence relentlessly on the slaves until they died and later replaced them with new slave afterwards. Even though Simon’s nature is very harsh, Tom remains the same kind and honest man he has been shown to be throughout the entire book so far.
The lack of change in Tom’s nature bothers Simon because he wants to make Tom an overseer of the plantation. As a result of this, Simon often beats Tom in an attempt to harden him but it still doesn’t work. Because of Tom’s good nature, he helps two women slaves, Cassy and Emmeline, who are being used as prostitutes by the master escape. Simon finds out they’re missing and after a long search in they decide the find Tom. Tom admits he knows where they are but won’t give up the information. With the help of two slaves, Sambo and Quimbo, Simon beats Tom very close to his death, which leds to Tom dying days later. In the process of Tom dying, he helps Sambo and Quimbo repent even though they helped with his beating and eventual death.
While Tom is dying, George Shelby, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Shelby arrives to buy Tom. Mrs. Shelby received a letter detailing how Tom was sold to a new owner after St. Clare died, but it got lost in the mail and very late. After Mr. Shelby died, Mrs. Shelby sent George off to get Tom but George arrived when Tom was very close to dying. Tom dies and George tries to buy his body from Legree to give him a proper burial, but he refuses to sell him. Instead, George buries Tom in the shade of some trees far from the plantation and returns home.
On the trip home from the plantation, George takes a boat and encounters Cassy and Emmeline who are escaping from the same plantation on the boat. On the ship, Cassy tells George her story and a woman who is listening in also begins to tell George her story. During this section it’s revealed that the unknown woman is named Madame de Thoux and is related to George Harris, Eliza’s husband. George Shelby tells Madame de Thoux how Eliza married George Harris and Cassy realizes Eliza is her daughter who was taken from her years prior.
Cassy and Emmeline travel to Canada and become reunited with their families. Madame de Thoux ends up having a fortune that she uses for her family. Because of this money, George asks for an education and goes to France for a university. The newly reunited family goes to Liberia to try out their lives there. Eventually George returns to his home and the plantation from the beginning. He writes a letter to his mother but doesn’t include Tom’s death.
Upon his arrival, George tells Aunt Chloe, Tom’s wife, and Mrs. Shelby about Tom’s death and how Tom died and how George found him when he arrived. A month after breaking the news, the book ends with George freeing all of the slaves and telling them to follow Uncle Tom’s example of being a good Christian, since his death inspired George to free all of the slaves. At the end Harriet Beecher Stowe includes a speech with details about the event in the story and ends the speech with a call to action for the Christian church and people to do what’s right.