Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an anti-slavery novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe, a white New England woman, had a tremendous impact when it was published in 1852.
It sold 300,000 copies in the first year. Stowe’s depictions of the horrors of slavery fueled many northerners’ determination to end this practice.
In contrast, southerners denounced her book as a lie, and several southern women countered with novels defending slavery.
So important was Stowe’s work that when President Abraham Lincoln met her in 1862, after the start of the Civil War, he supposedly said, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this big war.”
Harriet Jacobs told an incredible but true story in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861).
She detailed the abuse she endured as a slave and described how, after escaping, she hid in an attic crawl space for seven years.