uncle history


March 20th 1852: Uncle Tom’s Cabin published

On this day in 1852, American author Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published. Previously published as a serial in the anti-slavery periodical the National Era, Uncle Tom’s Cabin tells the story of a black slave and recounts the harsh reality of his enslavement. Stowe was an ardent advocate of the abolition of slavery, and wrote the novel in response to the passage of the controversial 1850 Fugitive Slave Act which was part of the Compromise of 1850. The Act ordered Northern citizens to assist in the return of runaway slaves from the South, thus forcing the generally anti-slavery North to become complicit in the continuance of the ‘peculiar institution’. The popular discontent over the slavery issue helped make Uncle Tom’s Cabin the best-selling novel of the nineteenth century and saw its translation into sixty languages. The novel helped keep the flames of anti-slavery sentiment alive, and is therefore sometimes attributed with helping start the American Civil War. While still hailed as a great anti-slavery work of its day, the novel falls short of modern expectations with its stereotypical portrayal of African-Americans.

“So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war”
- what, according to legend, Abraham Lincoln said upon meeting Stowe in 1862

To all the kids in AP classes with C's

You worked hard for that C. Sure you would like your normal A but that doesn’t mean you should put yourself down because of a C. AP classes are supposed to be hard so if you think about it, a C is really an A. Heck some schools have a weighted GPA. A C in an AP class is an A in those kind of school systems, but what I’m trying to say is don’t put yourself down for something you worked hard for, your effort was seen and recognized or else it would be an F instead of a C. 

Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Margo Jefferson are two of the finest intellectuals in our country today. Gates, a MacArthur Fellow, and Jefferson, a Pulitzer-Prize winner, share a deep interest in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In 2006, Gates and Jefferson sat down at the Library for a special event on the novel co-presented with The Studio Museum in Harlem. While initially praised by the likes of Frederick Douglass, its eponymous character has also at times been linked with an insulting vision of black masculinity and, more recently, has been recuperated by some feminist scholars. For this week’s episode of the New York Public Library Podcast, we’re proud to present Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Margo Jefferson discussing the myriad ways of understanding Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

June 2, 1793:

Maximilien Robespierre begins the Reign of Terror. It would the sixth “reign” under Robespierre. The other five, in order, were: the Reign of Stop What You’re Doing, Please; the Reign of C'mon guys, I Mean It; the Reign of I Said Stop It; the Reign of No, You Shut Up; the Reign of OK, Now I’m Getting Pissed. His rule would end the following year, which would be followed by the Reign of Robespierre’s Dead.

  • Animal Farm: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
  • Conservative uncle: See? Lol this is why socialism can't work and all attempts to change anything are doomed to fail.
  • Founding Fathers: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
  • Conservative uncle: Geniuses, omg, what marvelous men, such rebels, we need to do exactly what they intended.
  • Founding Fathers: *oversaw mass enslavement, imperialist genocide, active political disenfranchisement for anyone who wasn't white and male and property-owning, and the rapid accumulation of capital for elites*
  • Conservative uncle: Well it was a different time ya know.