Characters Uncle Tom - The hero of the novel, a faithful and very intelligent slave. On the Shelby estate he serves as a kind of a spiritual father to the slaves. He does not run away when he learns he will be sold away from his wife and children. He is bold in his convictions, even giving advice to one master, Augustine St. Clare. When others encourage him to fight or run, he refuses, claiming it is his duty to serve the man who has purchased him and hope that by faithfulness, he will earn his reward. On Simon Legree's plantation, he refuses to strike a female slave and gets in trouble for this. Under torture to say he has no beliefs, he refuses. On nearly all issues he is submissive to his white masters but on the matter of his faith he will not give in. He is a martyr.
He dies for the sake of his principles.
Eliza - A beautiful young slave who works in the Shelby house. She is a special favorite of Mrs. Shelby. When she learns that her son Harry will be sold, she takes him and runs away to Canada. On the way, she is reunited with her husband, a fellow slave from another plantation who had already run away.
George Harris - A slave on an estate near the Shelby's. He is Eliza's husband. As well, he is intelligent and has learned to read and write. He heads for Canada without his wife and son, hoping to earn the money to redeem them as soon as possible. He does not like white folks until the end when they help him. He ends up going to Liberia to live, where there is no slavery.
Mr. and Mrs. Shelby- A very nice couple who own some of the slaves. They treat them like actual people.
Little Harry- Eliza's son. He is not mentioned very much but he is the reason that she runs away.
Simon Legree- He is the evil owner that ends up buying Tom. He beats Tom to death because he will not denounce his beliefs.
Tom Looker and Marks- Slave hunters hired to track down the slaves.
Background Harriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, on June 14, 1811. She was the seventh of nine children in the household of Lyman Beecher and his first wife, Roxana Foote Beecher. He was a Presbyterian pastor. Harriet had been the daughter, the sister, the wife, and the mother of preachers. In 1827, at the age of sixteen, the author became a full time teacher at the seminary. In 1832, at the age of 21, she moved to Cincinnati with her father. Her closest friend there was a young woman named Eliza Tyler who had married Professor Calvin E.
Stowe of the Lane Seminary. Four years later, after Eliza's sudden death, Harriet married Professor Stowe. She became a mother to seven children. She had married into poverty. Her husband had only a large library of books and a great deal of learning. In the face of constant financial problems, Harriet discovered that her gift for writing eased the situation. The next sixteen or so years before the publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet was kept busy as homemaker, mother to seven, and freelance writer. A collection of Harriet's short stories, titled The Mayflower, was published in 1843. With the publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852, Harriet reached the peak of her career. At that time, her age was 41. J.P. Jewett of Boston published the book. It achieved phenomenal success; the first year, 300,000 copies were sold. That same year, the Stowes moved to Andover, Massachusetts, where Calvin became Professor of Sacred Literature at Andover Theological Seminary. Stowe's "Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin (1853)" was published as a verification of the facts in the novel.