Frances Wright and Harriet Beecher Stowe
Frances Wright and Harriet Beecher Stowe were both amazing women for there time. Frances Wright was a white woman born and raised in Scotland. Her parents passed away when she was very young and she was raised by her uncle, a philosophy professor. As a young adult Frances traveled to the United States with her sister and wrote a book, Views of Society and Manners in America, in 1821.
She decided to return to United States and start a program which would help slaves earn enough money for emancipation. Frances Wright opened her own farm in hopes of recruiting abolitionists and slaves. Although her idea was great in theory it never panned out as she planned. The farm could not raise enough money to help free the slaves. Frances Wright returned to England for a short time and her farm was taken away from her control. After her return to the United States she paid for slaves move freely to Haiti were they would be free.
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Frances Wright was not much liked by the American middle class. Her views were outlandish for the times as she made risky speeches about birth control, divorce laws (to help women divorce more easily), and of course the rights of slaves. Frances Wright was most welcomed in New York City, where drastic views and revolutionary ideas are often more accepted.
Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1851. Although she had never actually been to the south she did a lot of research, interviewing slave owners as well as slaves. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was such a controversial book of it’s time that it is sometimes credited for causing the civil war. Harriet Beecher Stowe related her own personal life to the characters in this great book. As an international best seller and a work of fiction Uncle Tom’s Cabin revolutionized the United States. The book was translated and widely accepted throughout Europe.
Before the war Harriet Beecher Stowe urged people to sign petitions against slavery. During the Civil War Harriet Beecher Stowe worked with the Underground Railroad to free slaves. She provided shelter and some education to newly freed slaves. Harriet Beecher Stowe had a voice and helped revolutionize the Unite States. As an author this might not have been her original intention when writing a work of fiction. She bravely accepted the consequences.
Harriet Beecher Stowe and Frances Wright were radical women with a voice well beyond their times. They had similar ideas and both wanted to show the implications of American slavery to the world. In both cases the world accepted their views and tried to put a stop to the horrid conditions of slaves in the United States at that time. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was rejected by southerners and said to be a complete and utter exaggeration of the conditions there. Harriet justified her work with a second book, A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, where she revealed her sources. Frances Wright’s views were also heavily rejected by people of the United States. This eventually led to her move to Paris where she stayed out of the public eye as much as possible.
Both women were talented and not afraid to say what was on there mind. Harriet Beecher Stowe stated her cause mainly through writing. Frances Wright was a renounced advocate and spoke her mind on many occasions in public. Harriet Beecher Stowe was initially motivated by her sister to write her novel. Frances Wright was motivated by her travels throughout the United States.
Each woman had a view and made it public. Frances Wright’s original goal was to help slaves raise enough money to become emancipated from their owners. Unfortunately this goal was not obtained. Thankfully she did not give up own her cause and used her own money to help some slaves become free. Frances Wright also continued to reveal the truth about slavery to American people through speeches and lectures in different cities.
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s goal was to make the American people aware of the dilemma going on in the southern states. She achieved this goal with the release of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s goal exceeded her expectations and educated the entire country as well as Europe about the state of slavery in the southern states of the United States. It is rumored that Abraham Lincoln once met Harriet Beecher Stowe. He said upon meeting her, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great (Civil) war” (http://www.harrietbeecherstowe.org/life/#uncle).
Both women were extremely successful in executing their plans. Harriet Beecher Stowe and Frances Wright both had dreams beyond their times. Although Frances Wright did not obtain her dreams on her first try she did not give up and is credited with being one of the most influential women of her time. The United States as we know it today is a direct result of the hard work and dedication of these two women.