“So you’re the little lady who started this great war!” said President Abraham Lincoln in the fall of 1862 when he finally met Harriet Beecher Stowe. This “little lady” was the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin a roller-coaster anti-slavery novel that had become a huge best-seller after its publication in 1852. Lincoln and many other people at the time believed that Stowe’s novel had caused the Civil War by intensifying public sentiment against slavery in the North and by spurring a reactionary surge of proslavery feeling in the states that would later secede from the United States to form the Confederate States of America. But Lincoln might just have well have been talking to and about Harriet Tubman. Like Stowe, Tubman’s activism advanced the fight against slavery and edged this country closer to Civil War. As the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad, Tubman and her allies built an antislavery escape network that stretched from the bowels of the slave South all the way into British Canada. Join us for a talk about both of these American icons with University of Maryland historian Dr. Richard Bell.
Dr. Richard Bell is Professor of History at the University of Maryland. He holds a PhD from Harvard University and is author of the new book Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home which is shortlisted for the George Washington Prize and the Harriet Tubman Prize. He has won more than a dozen teaching awards, including the University System of Maryland Board of Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honor for teaching faculty in the Maryland state system. He has held major research fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and the Library of Congress and is the recipient of the National Endowment of the Humanities Public Scholar award. He serves as a Trustee of the Maryland Center for History and Culture, as an elected member of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and as a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.