“Towns” (Mrs. Stowe’s “Uncle Tom” At Home in Kentucky, Part I)

We have a handout that contains multiple responses to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  They generally all argue that Stowe’s novel was too much an emotional response to the issue of slavery instead of a factual one, and that she overlooked some of the “benefits” that slavery gave to the slaves.

We looked at one a little more closely, “Mrs. Stowe’s ‘Uncle Tom’ At Home in Kentucky.”

When the war scattered the Negroes of Kentucky blindly, tumultuously, hither and thither, many of them gathered the members of their families about them and moved from the country into these “towns”; and here to-day the few survivors live, ready to testify of their relations with their former masters and mistresses, and indirectly serving to point a great moral: that, however justly Mrs. Stowe may have chosen one of their number as best fitted to show the fairest aspects of domestic slavery in the United States, she departed from the common truth of history, as it respected their lot in life, when she condemned her Uncle Tom to his tragic fate.

First and foremost, I think that there are very few times when a sentence should be this long, and this is not one of those times.

This is pretty much the first time the author outright said what his point was.    The way he puts quotation marks around the word “towns” is his way of signaling to the reader that something is off there, and it is not your normal town.  He mentions how the few survivors were “ready to testify” about their “former masters and mistresses.”  The way he uses the word “relations” seems to me like they were kind relations.  Also, if the former slave did not have any respect for their old masters, than why would they still call them master?  It would be my understanding that they would refer to them in derogatory way, not in a way that shows them respect.



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