The anti-slavery story of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe, is one of the most influential books in American History. First published in 1852, prior to the Civil War, it pointed out the appalling realities of American slavery and subsequently, it was once banned in Alabama. So when a very rare 1880 edition was discovered in Rome, Italy, by Italian lawyer Arlene Rochlin, a descendant of the Blach family department stores in Birmingham, she knew it needed to be housed in an historically Black college in her grandparent’s hometown. (Read the entire article by Kyra Miles on WBHM.org)
Lawson State Community College now has the book proudly on display in their library and it is a part of their permanent collection.
Some modern scholars have called the book condescending but in the 19th century, it was recognized as a best selling novel, second in sales only to The Bible. However, by the 20th century, unauthorized stage plays & films were too often demeaning and insensitive with a political or financial agenda and were loathed by the African American community. The character of Uncle Tom was distorted and offensive. Unfortunately, Stowe had no control over these alterations of her story and the resulting stereotypes. Despite this, today, the original novel is still considered a landmark of ‘protest literature’ and Christian forbearance.
The story of its publication is interesting as well as it’s been in continuous print since 1852, although with ever-changing publishers and controversy. Read more about it HERE and then re-read the novel!