In 1962, Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe. According to legend, he said, “So you’re the little lady who wrote the book that started this Great War” (Harriet Beecher Stowe Center). Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a controversial novel written about slavery during the 1800s, sparked many of the feelings that would eventually escalate into causing the bloodiest war America had ever seen.
At the start of the novel, Mr. Shelby, a Kentucky plantation owner, must sell two of his slaves in order to settle his debt with Haley, a slave trader. Going against his conscience, he decides to sell Tom, an old religious and faithful slave, and Harry, a bright toddler. When Eliza, Harry’s mother, overhears Mr. Shelby discussing the issue with his wife, Eliza decides to run away. Eliza takes off, with hopes of meeting up with her husband in Canada who also decided to run away from his master earlier that day. . In the morning, when Haley discovers that Eliza had run away, he chases her until Eliza makes a daring escape across the Ohio River by running across chunks of floating ice.
After employing a group of men to track down Eliza, Tom and Haley leave for New Orleans. On the way down the river in a steamer boat, Tom befriends a young girl named Eva and saves her from drowning when she falls overboard. Eva’s father, St. Clare, buys Tom to be Eva’s personal servant. Over time, the Tom and Eva grow very close. Eva, like her father, is very kind and devoted to her slaves. She even transforms the life of a hardened, young slave girl named Topsy.
When it becomes clear that Eva, now quite ill, is going to die, she calls all of the servants together and gives them each one of her golden curls so they can remember her. Eva dies peacefully, but her family is filled with grief.
Meanwhile, George Harris and Eliza are reunited in a Quaker town and make it to Canada, although the two barely escape from a group of slave catchers en route.
St. Clare promises Tom his freedom, but before he can write out the papers, he is stabbed in a bar room brawl and dies. Tom is sold in an action with most of the other slaves. Legree, a hard and drunken master, buys Tom and takes him to his plantation. Despite Legree’s harsh treatment, Tom remains kind and hardworking, often helping the other slaves who cannot work fast enough. When Tom helps two prostituted slaves, Cassy and Emmeline, escape, Legree beats Tom and almost kills him. While Tom is laying on his deathbed, Mr. Shelby’s son, George, comes to buy back Tom. Tom dies peacefully after he is reunited with “Mas’r George”. George buries Tom under an old tree and returns to his plantation in Kentucky.
The two slaves that Tom helped escape meet up with George Shelby on the boat headed north. Cassy tells her story to George, and in doing so, Cassy discovers that that Eliza Harris is her long-lost daughter.
Cassy and Emmeline travel to Canada and reunite with their families. Eliza and George Harris, their children and the newly...