Welcome to the conversation!

Welcome to the conversation!

Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.

The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.

The Salons at Stowe programs are a forum to connect the challenging issues (race, gender and class) that impelled Stowe to write and act with the contemporary face of those same issues. The Salon format is based on a robust level of audience participation, with the explicit goal of promoting civic engagement. Recent topics included: Teaching Acceptance; Is Prison the New Slavery; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North; Creativity and Change; Race, Gender and Politics Today; How to be an Advocate

This blog will expand the reach of these community conversations to the online audience. Add your posts and comments to keep the conversation going! Commit to action by clicking HERE to stay up to date on Salon and social justice news.

For updates on Stowe Center programs and events, sign up for our enews at http://harrietbeecherstowe.org/email.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

#CivilWar150 and the Continued Fight for Equity

April 9th, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the U.S. Civil War. On this day in 1865, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Lt. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Georgia thereby ending major fighting and issuing the start of the post-war reconstruction process.

And though the Civil War ended on that day, the issues, that prompted and prolonged the war-slavery, conceptions of equality and democracy, and race relations, perhaps did not. David W. Blight of The Atlantic explores this topic in the recently released article "The Civil War Isn't Over." 

Blight writes:

Much has changed in the fifty years since the crises of 1963—in law, in schooling, in scholarship, in race relations. But whatever the engines of history actually are, what seems apparent is that the legacies of the American Civil War have tended to subside and reemerge in a never-ending succession of revolutions and counter-revolutions.

He continues, highlighting the ebbs and flows of history and divisions that continue in contemporary politics. 

American society seems to surge forward one moment, and then in the next sink back into polarization over race and ethnicity, over the advent of the nation’s first black president, over the rights of immigrants, over religious tolerance and birthright citizenship, over reproductive freedom, over the use of basic science to understand climate change, over the extent and protection of voting rights, over civil rights based on sexual preference, and over endless and incompatible claims of “liberty” about the possession and use of firearms, taxation, environmental protection, or the right to health insurance...In short, despite enormous changes of heart, head and law, Americans still struggle every day to discern and enact that society of equality that the Civil War at least made imaginable.

What do you think of Blight's piece? Is the Civil War ongoing? How do we enact the "society of equality" that the end of the Civil War suggested? Harriet Beecher Stowe helped galvanize the abolitionist movement with Uncle Tom's Cabin and as a result President Lincoln dubbed her "the little woman who started the Great War." What do you think Stowe's conceptions of the "Great War" were? What would she think today, 150 years after the war?  

If you are interested in more Civil War discussion, check out this podcast with Dr. Jelani Cobb and scholar Eric Foner on The Legacy of Reconstruction. On April 30th, the Stowe Center will present Writing about Race with Dr. Jelani Cobb from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.      

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