Harriet Beecher Stowe Timeline
How It All Went Down
Harriet Beecher Born
Harriet Elisabeth Beecher is born in Litchfield, Connecticut. She is one of ten children born to the famous Calvinist preacher Reverend Lyman Beecher and his wife, Roxana Foote Beecher.
Roxana Beecher dies of tuberculosis. Reverend Lyman Beecher is now a widower with six surviving children. He remarries a year later and fathers four more children with his new wife.
Introduction to Slavery Controversy
Inspired by the political debate over whether the new state of Missouri should be a free or slave state, Lyman Beecher begins preaching forcefully against slavery. Young Harriet, not yet ten years old, is deeply affected by his reformist message.
Harriet attends Hartford Female Seminary, a school run by her older sister Catharine. She will begin teaching at the school after graduating.
Moves to Ohio
Harriet Beecher moves with her family to Cincinnati, Ohio, where her father has a job at Lane Theological Seminary. She joins a literary group known as the Semi-Colon Club and begins to hone her writing style.
Marriage and Children
Harriet Beecher marries Calvin Stowe, a professor at Lane Theological Seminary. Later in the same year, she gives birth to their first two children, twin girls named Eliza and Harriet.
The couple's third child, son Henry Ellis Stowe, is born.
Second Son Born
The fourth Stowe child, Frederick William, is born.
Daughter Born; Book Published
Harriet Stowe gives birth to daughter Georgiana May. Her story collection The Mayflower is published.
Son Dies in Infancy
Harriet Beecher Stowe gives birth to the couple's sixth child, a baby called Charley. He dies of cholera at the age of eighteen months.
Moves to Maine; Fugitive Slave Act
The couple's seventh and last child, son Charles Edward, is born. Calvin Stowe becomes a professor at Bowdoin College, causing the family to move to Brunswick, Maine. The Stowes are upset about the Fugitive Slave Act, a new law that makes it a crime to assist anyone escaping slavery.
Work Begins on Uncle Tom's Cabin
During an anti-slavery sermon preached by the Rev. George E. Adams, Stowe envisions the plot of a novel depicting the cruelty of slavery. She rushes home after church and scribbles down all that she has pictured.
Uncle Tom's Cabin; Moves to Andover, Massachusetts
Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin is published. The horrors depicted in the novel outrage readers and spark heated political debate. Stowe becomes a hero of the growing abolitionist movement, while Southern critics attack her as a troublemaker. Calvin Stowe is appointed professor at the Andover Theological Seminary so the family moves to Andover, Massachusetts.
Reaction to Cabin
After critics accuse her of overplaying the agony of slavery in her novel, Stowe publishes the companion book A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin to rebut their criticisms. She is invited to speak about the novel in Great Britain.
Travels to Europe; More Books
Stowe travels a second time to Europe to talk about slavery and Uncle Tom's Cabin. She publishes her second novel, Dred, A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp, which tells the story of an escaped slave.
Eldest Son Dies
The Stowes' nineteen-year-old son Henry, a student at Dartmouth College, drowns while swimming in the Connecticut River.
Back to Europe; Keeps Writing
Stowe accepts another invitation to speak about her book to European audiences; international interest in the book leads to Uncle Tom's Cabin being translated into 37 languages during her lifetime. She publishes the novel The Minister's Wooing, a satiric take on Calvinism that also deals with her grief over the loss of her son.
South Carolina becomes to the first state to secede from the Union. Seven others follow, prompting a national crisis. President-elect Abraham Lincoln vows to keep the Union together.
Civil War Begins
Confederates attack Union troops at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. When Major Robert Anderson surrenders after only two days, the Confederates celebrate their first victory in what they assume will be a short and easy war. The battle at Fort Sumter marks the official start of the Civil War.
Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in all territories not controlled by the Union.
Moves to Connecticut
The Stowes move from Andover to Hartford, Connecticut. Stowe oversees the building of a lavish house called Oakholm.
One month after his second inauguration and five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee's surrender, President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth while watching a play at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. Vice President Andrew Johnson is sworn in. The Civil War officially ends four days later.
Congress adopts the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting slavery everywhere in the United States.
Harrriet Beecher Stowe and her sister, Catharine Beecher, publish The American Woman's Home, a manual arguing for the respect and recognition of women's domestic work. Beecher Stowe also publishes the novel Old Town Folks.
Loses Son, Home
Unable to keep up with the cost of maintaining their home, the Stowes sell Oakholm and move. Their son Frederick, a Civil War veteran and struggling alcoholic, moves to California and is never heard from again.
The Stowe family moves into their final home, a house on Forest Street in Hartford, Connecticut. The author Mark Twain and his family occupy the house across the street.
Beecher Stowe's older sister Catharine dies.
Beecher Stowe's husband Calvin Stowe dies.
Beecher Stowe's brother, the noted preacher Henry Ward Beecher, dies of a cerebral hemorrhage.
Harriet Beecher Stowe's daughter, Georgiana May Stowe Allen, dies due to complications from her morphine addiction. She became addicted to the painkiller after it was administered to her during childbirth.
Harriet Beecher Stowe Dies
At the age of 85, Harriet Beecher Stowe dies in her sleep at her home in Hartford, Connecticut. She is buried at the Andover Chapel Cemetery.