Harriet Beecher Stowe Quotes

Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1811 – 1896

Born: 14 June 1811, Litchfield, Connecticut
Died: 1 July 1896, Hartford, Connecticut

Harriet Elisabeth Beecher was the daughter of Lyman Beecher, an outspoken Calvinist clergyman, her mother Roxanna died just less than four years later. One of her five brothers was Henry Ward Beecher. She attended Litchfield Academy, in 1824 she moved to Hartford to attend Hartford Female Seminary which was run by her eldest sister, Catharine. Harriet took readily to writing, her first published work was a children’s geography text written with Catharine. In 1832 Lyman was appointed president of Lane Theological Seminary at Cincinnati, Ohio and the family moved there. Harriet began her successful writing career after winning a writing contest in 1834, her work appeared in many magazines. In 1836 she married Calvin Stowe, a professor at the seminary, and during this period that she first encountered the effects of slavery being immediately across the river from Kentucky, a slave state. Calvin was hired to teach at his alma mater, Bowdoin College at Brunswick, Maine, in 1850, the same year the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. In response, Harriet wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, first serialized in National Era and then released in book form. It sold more copies than any English language book other than the bible at the time and was believed by many to be the trigger that galvanized the Union to fight the Civil War. (Abraham Lincoln’s greeting her with “So you’re the little lady who started this great war!” is almost certainly apocryphal.) Harriet was a in great demand as a speaker, both in the US and Europe, following publication of the book, and she published several additional novels and a steady stream of magazine articles. The Stowes moved to Andover, Massachusetts when Calvin was hired to teach at a seminary there, then moved to Hartford, Connecticut. In 1873 they moved to their last house, still at Hartford, neighboring Mark Twain who became a close friend. In 1886 Calvin Died and Harriet’s mind began to go in 1888, she died at home.

Harriet Beecher Stowe quotes:

A little reflection will enable any person to detect in himself that setness in trifles which is the result of the unwatched instinct of self-will and to establish over himself a jealous guardianship.
    Harriet Beecher Stowe – Little Foxes (1865)

A man builds a house in England with the expectation of living in it and leaving it to his children; while we shed our houses in America as easily as a snail does his shell. We live a while in Boston, and then a while in New York, and then, perhaps, turn up at Cincinnati. Scarcely any body with us is living where they expect to live and die. The man that dies in the house he was born in is a wonder. There is something pleasant in the permanence and repose of the English family estate, which we, in America, know very little of.
    Harriet Beecher Stowe – Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands (1854)

A woman’s health is her capital.
    Harriet Beecher Stowe – Household Papers and Stories (1864)

All places where women are excluded tend downward to barbarism; but the moment she is introduced, there come in with her courtesy, cleanliness, sobriety, and order.
    Harriet Beecher Stowe – Household Papers and Stories (1864)

Any mind that is capable of real sorrow is capable of good.
    Harriet Beecher Stowe – Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)

By what strange law of mind is it that an idea long overlooked, and trodden under foot as a useless stone, suddenly sparkles out in new light, as a discovered diamond?
    Harriet Beecher Stowe – Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)

Care and labor are as much correlated to human existence as shadow is to light…
    Harriet Beecher Stowe – Household Papers and Stories (1864)

Common sense is seeing things as they are; and doing things as they ought to be.
    Harriet Beecher Stowe

Everyone confesses that exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind is the best thing for us; but most people do all they can to get rid of it, and as a general rule nobody does much more than circumstances drive them to do.
    Harriet Beecher Stowe – “The Lady Who Does Her Own Work” in The Atlantic Monthly (1864)

For, so inconsistent is human nature, especially in the ideal, that not to undertake a thing at all seems better than to undertake and come short.
    Harriet Beecher Stowe – Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1851)

Friendships are discovered rather than made.
    Harriet Beecher Stowe

Get your evidences of grace by pressing forward to the mark, and not by groping with a lantern after the boundary lines.
    Harriet Beecher Stowe – Old Town Folks (1869)

His conversation was in free and easy defiance of Murray’s Grammar, and was garnished at convenient intervals with various profane expressions, which not even the desire to be graphic in our account shall induce us to transcribe.
    Harriet Beecher Stowe – Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1851)

Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserve; it is life’s undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room, from which we go forth to more careful and guarded intercourse, leaving behind us much debris of cast-off and everyday clothing.
    Harriet Beecher Stowe – Little Foxes (1865)

Human nature is — above all things — lazy.
    Harriet Beecher Stowe – Household Papers and Stories (1864)

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