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Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin


by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Eliza Harris Timeline and Summary

  • Eliza overhears Mr. Shelby and Mr. Haley discussing her son. Afraid that Mr. Shelby is going to sell him, she asks Mrs. Shelby if he plans to do so. She is reassured, briefly, when Mrs. Shelby tells her that’s a ridiculous idea.
  • Later that day, her husband, George, tells her he plans to try to escape and reach Canada. Then he will work so he can buy her and little Harry.
  • That night, Eliza hides in a little closet and overhears Mr. Shelby tell Mrs. Shelby that he has, indeed, sold Eliza’s little Harry.
  • She doesn’t waste a minute. Immediately, Eliza takes her son and leaves, though she warns Tom first that he is also going to be sold.
  • Eliza runs all night long and all the next day, trying to reach the north shores of the Ohio River. She reaches a town on the south side, only to discover that the ferry is no longer going since there is so much ice in the water.
  • She waits in a little public house because one man is planning to try to cross the river that night. She hopes to cross with him.
  • But when Mr. Haley arrives in town, Eliza realizes she can’t hide and she can’t wait. Desperate, she takes Harry in her arms, runs to the river, and leaps from one ice block to another.
  • Miraculously, she makes it to the other side, and is helped ashore by a man she knows, who takes her to a nearby house.
  • Senator Bird and his wife live in this nearby house. Although Senator Bird has recently helped pass a law making it illegal to aid a fugitive slave, he is unable to let a real fugitive suffer. He takes Eliza and her son to a house where they will be safe.
  • Finally, Eliza ends up among the Quakers, where George joins her. The two of them set off in a wagon with Phineas, a Quaker planning to help them escape.
  • To finally reach Canada, Eliza cuts off her hair and dresses as a man.
  • She reaches Canada safely.
  • Five years later, Eliza is reunited with her mother, Cassy. She accompanies her husband George to France, where he receives an education, and then they go to Liberia.