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Current time:0:00Total duration:6:19
AP.USH:
KC‑5.2.I.B (KC)
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SOC (Theme)
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Unit 5: Learning Objective F

Video transcript

so Becca and I have been talking about Uncle Tom's Cabin which is this book from the 1850s that Abraham Lincoln actually said started the Civil War so how did this book start a war so in this video will tell you a little bit more about the plot but in the previous video we kind of discussed what was going on in the country at the time and Harriet Beecher Stowe again was from this abolitionist family she was really deeply affected by the compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Act and also by slave auction so this video will get a little bit more into the heart of the plot of the novel which does have to do with the family being torn apart alright so what was Uncle Tom's Cabin actually about Uncle Tom's Cabin was set on a plantation in Kentucky and it starts out with this kind of group of slaves that are about to be sold to other plantation owners and so Eliza and her son actually run away they run up north so Eliza goes up north and Uncle Tom is sold down the river so Eliza is trying to make sure that she and her son are not separated by being sold so she decides that she's going to escape and take her son with her up to Canada but Uncle Tom he's not actually related to he is sold in the opposite direction he's getting farther away from freedom by heading down the Mississippi you think about the sort of geography of slavery you know it's a much more urban environment in some of the more coastal areas so you might be in Charleston or you might even be in Baltimore as an enslaved person and you might have a pretty high degree of freedom and also a possibility of escape either by crossing the border or by boat when you're sold into this sort of deep south area you are deep in plantation country and there might not be another soul that you could rely on to help you escape for 100 200 miles and I think this is really something that Harriet Beecher Stowe wants to help point out in the book that there was the sense of doom for Uncle Tom however his Christian faith was the only thing that really kept him going and he bonded with this young white woman he met Eva just about their Christian faith and really reading his Bible was the thing that got him up in the morning so where were those kind of feelings about religion coming from you can definitely see that Harriet Beecher Stowe is influenced by her own family's faith which is influenced by the Second Great Awakening and the Second Great Awakening was this kind of flowering of religious belief in the 1830s and 1840s was kind of a reaction against the era of enlightenment which was what had inspired the founders of the United States to think of a more humanist world a more rational scientific world people start going to camp meetings they have religious revivals they experience religious conversions and in this time period there's kind of a shift in thinking about God in the United States you know if you think back to the Puritans they have this incredibly punitive sort of Old Testament destroyer god right one of the most famous early sermons in the United States is sinners in the hands of an angry god that at any moment God might release you into the flames well there's a new emphasis on christ-like love in the early 1830s 1840s new interpretation of God as being forgiving and gentle family oriented it's very Victorian where God was seen as this Punisher who condemned most people to hell in the Second Great Awakening there's a new emphasis on a forgiving kind family oriented Jesus who will save everyone and that's very incompatible with the ideas of slavery exactly and I think that Uncle Tom's Cabin can really be considered a part of the Second Great Awakening because of the way that it points out these fundamental inconsistencies and contradictions between Christian faith and Human Bondage how could of religion that says treat thy neighbor as thyself actually sanctioned slavery so Uncle Tom is kind of this martyr character right he is a devout believer in Christianity and forgiveness of God right up until his very end so how does Uncle Tom's Cabin actually end so Uncle Tom's Cabin ends with Uncle Tom is beaten by his overseers he sold kind of through this chain of different slave families in the deep south and he ends up with just a terrible terrible slave holder who requests his death actually partially because he was reading all this religious text and this slave owner was named Simon Legree and kind of this name Simon Legree has actually stuck with us in popular culture to mean a really evil cruel punitive master and the rest of the family actually meets back up Eliza is reunited with a bunch of other people that were on the original plantation and they really think about Uncle Tom as the smarter they hear of his death and he's looked at as kind of the sacrifice for the cause of freedom right and then also Uncle Tom he dies never having renounced his Christian faith and his example of martyrdom actually leads everyone who witnesses his death including Simon Legree to convert to Christianity and to vow never to hold slaves again and I think the ending of the book really points out this main theme within a lot of Second Great Awakening texts which was that if you just paid attention to how you are falling away from your Christian commitments then you could get back on track and maybe bring people together by utilizing Christian faith in a productive and public way so the book is published in 1852 and then what happens how would do people receive this book we'll talk about this tom mania that ensues in the next video