Harriet Beecher Stowe´s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Ideal African-American Citizenship

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Harriet Beecher Stowe in writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin had a vision for what her characters could be if they ever became citizens. Although her hero, Uncle Tom, never gains his freedom, he represents everything Stowe wants for free African-Americans. St. Clare also demonstrates Stowe’s ideas in his discussion with Miss Ophelia and George dreams of what Stowe would have for them as citizens. Stowe stresses the ideas that education, Christianity, and hard work were necessary for African-Americans to be perfect citizens. An ideal African-American citizen, in Stowe’s view, would be educated and a Christian. When St. Clare asks Miss Ophelia, “They will have to go north, where labor is the fashion, —the universal custom; and tell me, now is there enough Christian philanthropy, among your northern states, to bear with the process of their education and elevation?…could you endure to have the heathen sent into your towns and villages, and give your time, and thoughts, and money, to raise them to the Christian standard?” he is showing Stowe’s doubts about whether African-Americans can ever be accepted into Northern society. By asking if “there is enough Christian philanthropy…to bear with the process of their education and elevation”, he demonstrates Stowe’s view that for African-Americans to be proper citizens, they need to be educated and literate. This would allow them to become good Christians, “up to Christian standard,” as once they become literate, they can read the Bible.

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