Harriet Beecher Stowe

The Ohio Connection

  • Stowe moves to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1832 when her father is chosen as president of Lane Theological Seminary
  • The Stowe family moves into a large house in Walnut Hills, Ohio.
  • Harriet sees her first Shakespeare play in Cincinnati and joins a literary society, the “Semi-Colon Club.” Fellow members included Salmon P. Chase, who introduced her to the anti-slavery movement. Other acquaintances included Calvin Ellis Stowe, a professor of Biblical literature at Lane Theological Seminary, and his wife, Eliza, with whom Stowe became a close friend.
  • Catherine Beecher starts a school called the “Western Female Institute,” where Stowe is first a student and later a teacher.
  • The sisters write a geography textbook which is used at the school for many years. In 1833 Stowe writes an article about grammar and punctuation, for which she received fifty dollars.
  • Harriet crosses the Ohio River and sees a southern plantation for the first time, an experience that provides her with the setting for Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
  • Stowe visits the home of abolitionist John Rankin in Ripley, Ohio. During her residency in Ohio, she interviewes several former slaves who had escaped to freedom along the Underground Railroad. Many of the characters in Uncle Tom’s Cabin mirrored real-life individuals such as Josiah Henson, a fugitive slave who escaped from Kentucky to Canada via the Underground Railroad with his wife and two children.
  • Stowe befriends Dr. Gamaliel Bailey who helps run the magazine Philanthropy and who would later become editor of National Era, the antislavery weekly that first published Uncle Tom’s Cabin in serial format.
  • In 1850, Harriet Beecher Stowe moved from Ohio to Maine, after her husband accepts a teaching position at Bowdoin College. Writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin after arriving in Maine, Stowe draws upon her Ohio experiences which inspired her to write the book that would expose the horrors of slavery on a national level.

The Harriet Beecher Stowe House is located at 2950 Gilbert Avenue in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is open to the public Tuesday through Thursday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Appointments can be made for group tours by calling 513/632-5120.

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