Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin as a Romantic Racialist Novel

The cultural repercussions of Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, are undeniable. Uncle Tom's Cabin became one of the most widely read and profoundly penetrating books of the nineteenth century. Richard Yarborough remarked that, "Uncle Tom's Cabin was the epicenter of a massive cultural phenomenon, the tremors of which still affect the relationship of blacks and whites in the United States" (Levine, 524). As a novel that impacted the American perceptions of racial identity and character so greatly, one would hope that the truth was presented. Instead, Stowe's strikingly influential novel was a romantic racialist text, which mirrored nineteenth century white racial ideology. Uncle Tom's Cabin, was successful in arousing sympathy for the enslaved and may have strengthened the abolitionist cause. But, ultimately Stowe's portrayal of the enslaved paralleled the romantic racialist ideas common to her time.

The doctrine of romantic racialism, as presented by George M. Fredrickson in his essay, Romantic Racialism in the North, proposes that racial differences exist without inherent hierarchy (Fredrickson, 430). In his essay, Fredrickson outlined various beliefs about the differences...

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