Uncle Tom's Cabin or Life Among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe is a significant piece of literature because it helped in abolishing slavery in the United States. Uncle Tom's Cabin stirred many emotions and raised much controversy. Upon meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe, Abraham Lincoln said, "So you"re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!". Uncle Tom's Cabin had stirred the conscience of the nation and the world, fueling sentiments that would ignite the Civil War. Each of Stowe's scenes, while serving to further character and plot, also serves, without exception, to persuade the reader, especially the Northern reader of her time, that slavery is evil, un-Christian, and intolerable in a civil society. .
Throughout most of the novel, Stowe creates mild settings, in which slaves and their masters have apparently positive relationships. She generates characters such as Shelby and St. Clare to show that even though slaves may have kind masters who do not abuse or mistreat them, slavery is evil unconditionally. One can learn that even under kind masters, slaves suffer because they do not own their freedom. This is exemplified when Shelby struggles financially and has no choice but to sell off Tom which destroys Tom's family. While talking to the slave trader Haley, Shelby said, "Hum! to tell the truth, it's only hard necessity makes me willing to sell at all. I don't like parting with any of my hands, that's a fact" (p. 5). Rather than losing property, Shelby decided to sell off his best slave, not knowing whose slave he will be thereafter. Pulling away from the kind masters, Stowe takes her reader into the Legree plantation, where the evil of slavery appears in its most hideous form. In this harsh setting, slaves suffer beatings, sexual abuse, and even murder.
A major theme in Uncle Tom's Cabin is the incompatibility of slavery and Christian values.