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Response to Uncle Tom's Cabin

Union or Secession
  • Martha Haines Butt responds to <em>Uncle Tom's Cabin</em>
In 1853, Norfolk writer Martha Haines Butt published a novel entitled Antifanaticism: A Tale of the South, to counter the antislavery message in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852).
Related Biographies:
  • Martha Haines Butt (1833–1871). Engraving in <em>Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper</em>, January 14, 1860.
    Martha Haines Butt
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Martha Haines Butt responds to Uncle Tom's Cabin

Martha Haines Butt, Antifanaticism: A Tale of the South (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, and Co., 1853), 266–267.

Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 antislavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin deeply offended many Southerners because it condemned Southern society and culture as well as slavery. The following year Virginia native Mary Henderson Eastman published a novel to refute Stowe's characterization of Southern slavery, and Norfolk resident Martha Haines Butt published another, Antifanaticism: A Tale of the South. Throughout her novel, Butt portrayed slavery as a benevolent, Christianizing institution. She repeatedly emphasized that slaves were better off than servants in the North and that they did not want freedom. Butt promoted sectional reconciliation by attempting to persuade her readers that if Northerners traveled to the South they would come to agree with Southern slave owners and adopt proslavery attitudes. "THE authoress has anticipated writing something on Southern life before she saw or read 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,'" Butt wrote. "But after the perusal of that overdrawn picture, she really felt it her duty to stand up for her own native place."

Extract from Concluding Remarks in Martha Hines Butt, Antifanaticism: A Tale of the South (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, and Co., 1853), 266–267, a novel published to challenge the antislavery message of Harriett Beecher Stowe's 1852 novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin.
THE authoress has anticipated writing something on Southern life before she saw or read "Uncle Tom's Cabin." But after the perusal of that overdrawn picture, she really felt it her duty to stand up for her own native place. Mrs. Stowe has certainly represented things in a very different light from what they are. She knows nothing of Southern life, therefore should not attempt to write upon anything of the kind. She would certainly lead persons (who are weak-minded) to believe they are the most inhuman set of people on the earth.
The writer of this has heard many Northern people, who have read "Uncle Tom," say, they have been South, but never saw anything like what Mrs. Stowe represents. We should judge that Mrs. S. was very fond of embellishing; and to that we attribute much that she has said.
The work before you is the first one of the authoress which has appeared in pamphlet form, and the first one of any length. She hopes her readers will bear with the imperfections, and remember that youth is on the side of the author. It is not to be expected that she should write like those who have been making observations for a long time upon the world, for she has left school but two years, and at boarding-school there is but little chance of learning "the ways of the world." She writes this work merely to defend the South. Many would ask if this were a true story. To this the writer would reply, that there are a thousand such instances at the South, where the strong attachment here represented exists between the slave and his owners.