In 1851, after the enactment by the United States Congress of a Fugitive Slave Act (the effect of which was to return Africans and African-Americans who had escaped from slavery in the Southern states and were living in the North, back into captivity), the editor of an antislavery periodical asked Harriet Beecher Stowe if she could supply him with a timely story or article. Stowe agreed to write a fictional piece about the lives of several slaves on a Kentucky plantation.* This fictional piece, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is written about actual people and their lives, although some characters were developed wholly by Stowe, all to illustrate the condition of slavery. The narrative wonderfully explains the 1850s from many different sides of the story. For well-rounded insight into this era, I highly recommend reading this book.
Students in our US History class have been reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin since the beginning of the school year. There intermittent tests on certain chapters ask critical thinking questions such as, “What does Eva’s death mean to you?” and “Why is this text worth reading?” also “There are many important ideas/themes in this book. Name three and explain why they are important.” and finally, “Rather than reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin for sheer pleasure, we are reading this book to understand and appreciate a worldview. According to you, what worldview might that be? Explain.” Below are some responses to these questions from students in our class. There is also a photo gallery below showing some of the writing of the students. So proud of them! Continue reading